6) Katherine’s Garden. Katherine is one ambitious mofo. She moved out to the country last summer and this summer, she dove right into starting a vegetable garden. And I’m not talking about a single planter on her porch. She’s been building a garden that’s bigger than my entire condo. Here’s Katherine in the midst of her handiwork:
I couldn’t even fit it all in one shot! It’s still very early in the short Sweden growing season, but Katherine has planted tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, carrots, beans, beets, spinach, arugula, lettuce, asparagus, and more. Plus, she inherited, from the previous owners, apple trees, raspberry bushes, and rhubarb (that’s the giant plant in the center of the pic). In a previous post, I shared how we used rhubarb, nettles, and lilacs from the garden during a dinner party, and last night, Katherine bounded into the house with a giant smile on her face: the first strawberry ripened!
Katherine and I cut it in half, and it was delicious. Some other garden fun facts I’ve learned during my stay:
- Katherine often gardens from 9-11pm, or later, after her kids are in bed. Because summer days are so long in Sweden, there’s still daylight.
- You shouldn’t plant blackberries and raspberries to close to each other. They can transmit diseases to each other.
- If you want to grow asparagus, be prepared to wait. If you start from seeds, it takes four years to get edible asparagus stalks.
- It’s okay if I pee around the edge of the garden. In fact, I’ve been encouraged to do so. Male urine helps deter rabbits, deer, and other woodland critters.
7) The Vasa Museum. The other day we headed into the city and visited a really awesome museum. It’s based entirely around a rather embarrassing moment in Sweden’s history. Here’s what happened (forgive me, history buffs, for paraphrasing):
In the early 1600s, Sweden was antsy to become a global power. The King of Sweden commissioned a huge new warship called the Vasa to add to the fleet. It was state-of-the-art, with two gundecks, instead of the typical one. It took years to build, and was a stunning ship. The city gathered along the shores of Stockholm one day in August 1628 to see the ship sail for the very first time. To great fanfare, the Vasa pulled away from the dock, sailed about one kilometer… and promptly sank. It had been poorly designed, and was top-heavy. Fifty members of the crew died.
The Vasa sat in its new home, at the bottom of the channel, until the 1950s, when it was hauled up, transported to a nearby dry dock, and meticulously restored. Then, a museum was built around the Vasa. The actual ship is the main draw, but there’s a lot of information about Sweden during that time, what life was like for sailors and soldiers, and how the ship was recovered and restored. But really, it’s all about the ship. Here I am with Katherine’s son, Kai, and the bow of the ship:
And here’s me and a new friend:
And me inside a diving bell:
Katherine and Kai had a good time, too!
It was a great way to spend a couple hours.
8) Hötorgshallen. This is a big market in downtown Stockholm. It’s in the basement of a building, and it’s full of vendors selling foods and all around the world. Case after case of meats, cheeses, seafood, vegetables, prepared dishes, spices, you name it.
Katherine and I mostly wandered, but we did buy some sunchokes (the ones in Katherine’s garden weren’t ready yet; did I mention that she’s also growing sunchokes?), some greens, and a nice piece of Parmesan cheese for a salad as part of our dinner tonight. I didn’t photograph the salad, but it was my first time eating sunchokes, and they were pretty good. I vow – that’s right, vow – to buy them when I get back to Los Angeles and write a post about them at some point in the future.
This pretty much wraps up my final post from Sweden. It’s occurred to me that I haven’t shared many pictures of Katherine, whom I came here to see, so I’ll wrap this up with two pictures we took today. Before this trip, I hadn’t seen Katherine in almost 2 years, and it’s been a phenomenal week. It sucks when your really good friend moves to an entirely different continent, but it sure is fun when you can visit them there! In this first pic, we’re both attempting a very specific pose…
…and we’ve been jokingly referring to this pic as the one we’d use on our Save-The-Date card:
On a different, unrelated note, I just realized that I haven’t a dessert-type item or sweet since Saturday. And I haven’t been craving anything, either.
Keep it up, David!