Opinions differ on the day Spring arrives, especially at the northern latitudes, Stockholm’s being 59 degrees north.
The Vernal Equinox occurred locally on 20 March, and today is the 22nd. Until today, the temperatures for the past many weeks were consistently between -10 and zero degrees Celsius. Last week the streets and paths were ominously slippery with layers of ice and hardened snow. The gravel strewn by workers cannot always be on every slippery patch and cannot be strewn immediately and everywhere after every ensuing snow or freezing rain.
But today! The local temperatures ranged between 5 and 10 degrees, the ice and snow have melted sufficiently to allow people to stride without worrying, not allowing the sound and feel of the crunch of gravel beneath their feet to detract from feeling their regained freedom and the warmth of direct sunlight.
Yes, the sun. At this latitude and time of year, it shines directly in your face from the south on a clear afternoon such as today. The days are currently advancing in length at 5.19 minutes each day—that’s thirty-six minutes in a week.
But these facts and numbers are not what gave me the feeling of spring today. It was my walk from Sankt Eriksplan to Hötorget, warmed by the radiance of the sun and my visual impressions along the way.
Along Oden Street (Odengatan), some of the cafés and restaurants had already placed chairs and tables on sidewalks which were occupied by customers facing the brilliant sunlight of the early afternoon. Flowers vendors were displaying their offerings for those preparing for the Easter holiday, including birch branches with colored feathers affixed to their ends.
I turned right on Queen Street (Drottningsgatan) which leads directly downtown and from which I will take a slight jog at the end, to reach my objective: a coffee shop near Hötorget to have fika with friend Eric Gandy.
I was grateful to have sufficient time to visit a favorite used bookstore on Queen Street (Antiqvariat August) which was having a 50%-off sale. Oh, joy! I bought, for 45 Swedish Crowns (around US$5.50) a biography of the Italian Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi (translated from the French to English), about whom I know too little, but whose music I treasure.
Further along Queen Street at the intersection of Wallen Street (Wallengatan), I was struck by the beauty of a building I had passed by many times without noticing.
The feeling of Spring sprang mostly from the attitudes and energies of the people I passed and strode along with on my jaunt of around an English mile. Jackets, including mine, were no longer fastened to the neck, scarves were absent or loosely hanging, gloves were stored in pockets or purses.
And, the days are longer than the nights for the next six months.
Therefore, I declare: Spring!