Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice (and a new CHOKE)

I have had the great privilege to observe Midsommar in Sweden a few years ago. In that part of the world, The Land of the Midnight Sun, it's an important and widely celebrated holiday. The family we visited had a midday meal outside. They always ate outside on Midsommar (I'm using the Swedish spelling because I like it), no matter what the weather was. "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes." On that day, we wore winter coats.

We were greatly warmed, though, by the "branvin", some kind of strong alcohol. When Papa would ring a little bell, everyone would sing a song--they ranged from raucous to naughty--and drink some of the branvin. We Americans were slugging back the whole tiny glass until we noticed that the Swedes were sipping theirs. We changed our ways, but were already half in the tank.

During the meal the young men left the table and gathered wildflowers. The tradition is that they gather 7 different kinds of flowers and weave a garland for their girlfriends' heads. This is no problem because there are dozens of different kinds of wildflowers on the hills near their West coast home. One of them wove one for me, too, and I wore it the rest of the day.

After the meal, we all trooped down to the churchyard for a pagan ceremony. A large pole, festooned with greenery and flowers rested on the ground. It had a crosspole, with two loops that hung from it. Rather phallic looking. Especially when it was slooowly raised while the people sang and began dancing around it. We sang more silly songs, including the national favorite, Små grodorna or Little Frogs. Some musicians played accordion and violin. Even after it started raining, they played on and we danced on. The Swedes are hardy people!

NEW SUBJECT: Well, an old subject revisited. The second edition of CHOKE is now available in trade paperback! I'm excited about my new cover depicting the town of Saltlick and Huey's Hash. Stay tuned for news of the sequel, later this month.

Stonehenge at midsummer (Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)  
Midsummer dance picture from Wikipedia.

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