School days are here again
Micah starts school tomorrow. Tomorrow! I thought I had at least a week before I had to think about school supplies. This morning Micah is “practicing” riding the train with Cooper—that is taking public transit. To get to Stockholm International School, Micah will need to take the Lidingo train across the bridge, get on another train into the city, then a third train to go north one stop where he will disembark and walk two city blocks. (I’m nervous just writing about it!) It’s a 7-story, neo-classical building, founded in 1951 by a German woman who began the school as a kindergarten for British families associated with the Embassy. Today it includes up to grade 12 and provides an education for a culturally diverse student population, (at least that’s what the website says), including many of the Americans living in Sweden.
Jonah starts school Monday. He’ll attend the British School, nicknamed Bips, south of the city. It’s a 40-minute bus ride on a school bus that costs more than his tuition. (Here’s where we roll our eyes and say, “Only in Sweden.”) I’m certain Jonah will like it there; it’s lovely and the staff all sound like Mary Poppins—very proper English indeed!
Malachi is working at the American Embassy in the Counselor section, helping to process Visa’s. He’s LOVED work, but will be back in school August 24th when we drive him to Sigtuna—both the name of the town and the boarding school where he’ll be living—and drop him off. (I’ll be sure to wear waterproof mascara and bring Kleenex.)
We visited the school this past weekend, an hour drive north through the countryside. The scenery was beautiful; it reminded me of Pennsylvania—green-rolling hills, lots of forested spaces. Sigtuna is Sweden’s first town; founded in 980 A.D. It’s a quaint medieval village with winding cobblestones streets, some boasting signs of being “original” Viking roads. Tourists come from around the world to see the more than 30 rune stones from the 12th century.
You can stop by the visitor’s center, like we did, and pick up a map of where to locate the runes then go searching. Most of the large stones, etched and painted with red designs, have posted nearby an explanation telling you why the stone was erected—usually to memorialize a Viking quest or because someone wanted to celebrate himself, like the famous chieftain Jarlabanke, who erected at least five stones to himself during his lifetime. There was however one large stone, circled in red, a cross in the center, that had a touching story attached to it…it’s the only known rune stone erected in memory of two sisters by their brother. I wish I knew the rest of the story…
We had lunch at one of the local cafes, not far from the harbor. We ordered a Swedish specialty—baked potato topped with crème fresh and shrimp. The crème fresh was chock full of fresh herbs and seasonings—delicious. Also on the menu were popular dishes like avocado salad with shrimp and shrimp sandwiches, in fact it was hard not to order something with shrimp.
Walking back to the car we followed the path that took us through the heart of the city—through the cemetery. Being close to the water and cemetery reminded me of the time I vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard with my parents, not at the beach, mind you, but in the cemeteries recording names off headstones. Ever since than I can’t be in a cemetery and not stop to read the headstones. Nordqvist, Lundqvist, Carlson, and Nilsson were just some of the names carved on stones set in well-manicured plots. The cemetery was also a historical site, next to the graves were the remains of two old cathedrals…yes you guessed it, the oldest in all of Sweden. We took pictures than stopped to see the newly built brick church nearby—by new I mean built in 1247. There was a wedding finishing up; the crowd was tossing rice on the bride and groom.
Even without the excuse to drive to Sigtuna to see Malachi’s school, it was well worth the trip. Sigtuna is full of history, small and charming, yet vibrant with life. I’m planning to spend more time there this winter on some of our weekend trips to get Malachi. There’s a woman in a shop that sells the most beautiful organic yarns that’s promised to teach me how to knit. The yarns are draped along old stonewalls—grays and mauves and plenty of bright colors too. Along one wall there’s a brick fireplace filled with flickering candlelight—charming. It seems the perfect hobby for a long cold winter.