Friday, March 19, 2021

Life ~ The Early Years

 I was born in the evening of the summer solstice in Stockholm, Sweden. The city is too far south for the midnight sun, but June nights are light and lovely there. I have always been happy about the timing of my birth. I'm a Friday's child.

I was long and skinny when I arrived. Later, some chubbiness set in. 

We were a small family. My dad had one brother, my mom a brother and a sister. I was the first child, much wanted, much loved, much spoiled, but also much trusted. Their trust in me was the most important gift I received from my parents.  

My first memory is of ants. I was fascinated by a structure built by ants.

More than half of Sweden's land area is covered by forests, mostly pine and fir trees. As pine and fir needles drop to the forest floor, ants pick them up and use them to build amazing ant buildings, or stacks as they are called in Sweden.

During my first year or two, my parents rented a small cottage on an island in the Stockholm archipelago where we spent our summers. I don't think we owned a boat in those early days.

The rest of the year, we lived in an apartment building in a city suburb. The building was located at the foot of a steep hill and was surrounded by woods. The hill was a lot of fun in the snow. I was totally unafraid of riding down it in one of the above pictured kaelke, a small sled of sorts. 

The winters of 1941 and 42 were very cold with lots of snow I've been told. And I have these pictures to prove it. Looks like I've  loved snow forever.

I was born in 1940, so for the first five years of my life war was raging outside our borders. My dad was in the reserves and was often away, preparing for an eventual war. Above, I'm shaking hands with my soldier dad. As you can see, my dad was tall too.

This is my favorite picture of mom and me.

How awful it must have been, with  the rest of Scandinavia occupied. Finland with its own winter war with the Soviet Union. Was Sweden able to help enough, I hope so. A couple of families in our street took in Jewish refugee children. 

But there were happy times as well. By the time, my brother arrived in the spring of 1943, we needed a larger home. My parents bought a house in a lovely street, where the homes were built at the tail end of the city of Stockholm's first suburb, Enskede.  Some day, I hope to tell the story of this suburb, as its history and how it came to be is quite interesting. 

My brother and I enjoying our very own green grass at our brand new house. I know my parents must have been so happy.



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