Skeeting About in Sweden

Friday, October 14, 2016
Linköping, Swedish Lakeland, Sweden
We rose at a decent hour this morning from our cozy cabin in Mantorp. I think it was after sunrise but I can't be certain since we didn't actually see the sun or even feel its warmth today. Overcast and wind persisted all throughout the day. We had a nice slow breakfast of muesli and coffee before heading out to see the sights. Paul showed us around his little homestead; his two little hens, the newest renovations to his barn and entryway, his workshop, the game room he created out of a wood shef, fruit trees and berry bushes. He's really done quite a bit in the past months and the place looks great!

After bundling up for the cold weather we climbed in the car and headed first to Mjölby . This is where Paul works and where his three kids go to school. It's also the town that was once known for its grain mills and potato production. We snapped a photo of a giant statue of a potato that stands in the center of a traffic circle on the edge of town. It's a very sad looking spud. In fact it actually looks like a teary eyed face was purposely placed on this super sized tuber to elicit an emotional response from passing motorists. Manufacturing, it seems, has since dominated the town and replenished the local economy.

Not a far drive from Mjölby there is a national treasure (besides the manufacturers of forklifts and combiners). The largest rune stone in Sweden stands in a small roadside park across from a small schoolhouse in between farms and fields. It's an ancient relic that holds the tale of a farther mourning for his dead son. Sweden has several of them and they hold details of parts and pieces of the country's history and storytelling heritage as well as an archaic alphabet that Vikings may have used .

We froze there for a while alongside a few other brave Scandinavians eager to admire their own heritage, and then headed off to a nearby bird sanctuary. One of a handful of larger lakes in Sweden, the nature preserve is typically filled with hundreds or thousands of birds that migrate to slightly warmer weather starting this time of year. The nature reserves has a very nice observatory with a thatched roof and siding. Although brisk out, the view of the water was pleasant, and the trees along the walking trails and roads made for some memorable moments and good conversation.

We drove on back the way we had come, but this time we went a bit further than where we had started. Linköping is the fifth largest city in the country. Many of the side streets and shopping areas including the square are cobblestone and brick. The streets and the thirteen-hundred year old Lutheran cathedral give this city an older feel. There are plenty of shops, cafés, schools, and offices that line the streets busy with cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists . We stopped in Steve's Coffee for coffee, tea, and fries. The fries came with two dipping sauces which we each chose for ourselves from a list of twenty or so options. Old typewriters and radio sets sat on shelves alongside canisters and burlap sacks of coffee beans. We sat upstairs and chatted while a tiny bird flew around from one antique decoration to the next looking for his next meal from any unsuspecting patrons. We left full and satisfied with our choice for lunch, then walked through the cobblestone streets to catch a glimpse of the inside of the old cathedral. Curiously, we perused relics, gravestones, monuments, and art installations. The detail in every little inch of the place was impressive.

The warmth of the cozy fire that Paul had promised to build once the Sabbath had begun was calling us back to our abode. On the way back over to Mjölby we stopped for a few minutes in old Linköping. It's a part of the original downtown that has been kept up to look nearly identical to how it must have been more than a hundred years ago . It has cobblestone streets, a main square surrounded by storefronts and cafés, and streets lined with the shops of artisans and craftsmen of all sorts. There was even a chocolate shop that sells the most famous chocolate in all of Sweden, although I have never seen or heard of it before.

We swung back through Mjölby to get the children after school. They were excited to have visitors come and spend some time with them, to have a Sabbath meal with them and fellowship with them in their own home. We ate a fine smörgåsbord, had ice cream and chocolates for dessert, and spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other over board games and shared pieces of music. We drank tea and then enjoyed the roar of the fire behind the sounds of our own conversing. It was a fine start to our time together and a great way to spend the coming of the Sabbath.
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