For the fifth summer in a row, a couple of my singing buddies have organized an outing to Grinda, an island in the Stockholm Archipelago. This year, for the first time, I was finally able to join them. The Archipelago, with its 30,000 or so islands, is one of the country's treasures and is trafficked by boats that travel to a number of the most popular islands.
The trip to Grinda is just under two hours, with boats departing a few times daily from a dock in the middle of town, just opposite the royal palace. People live on the islands closest to the city and use the boats to commute into town for work or pleasure. As I climbed on board today, I was greeted by some familiar faces also on their way to the song fest.
Grinda is popular among campers during the summer and I can see why. It is peaceful, beautiful and quiet. We wend our way along the paths, past cows and sheep grazing in the pastures,
to a small pier where we settle down to eat our picnic lunches and lift our voices in song.
As we begin our second song, so do the raindrops and soon we are in the midst of a typical Swedish summer downpour. I drape the plastic tablecloth that I brought to sit on over myself, creating a small tent in an effort to keep dry. From within my small shelter I can hear the others laughing and sighing over our back luck. No one makes a move to leave, everyone confident that the rain will pass enabling our singing outing to continue as planned. I marvel at the Swedish perseverance which does eventually pay off as the rain subsides and the sun makes an appearance.
We finish our meal and get back to the real purpose of our trip...singing. We are not professionals. We do not sing together regularly. We are simply a collection of people who share this common interest in singing and being out in nature, happy to be combining the two. We sing mostly in Swedish and once again I note that at this point I know more folk songs in Swedish than I do in English. How odd, I think, and marvelous.
On my way home I am rewarded by this beautiful shaft of light that illuminates the Stockholm skyline.
The heavens are welcoming me home...