Of course birches smell! It’s just that I can’t really recognize it’s characteristics, I am too close and it is too familiar to me. Arriving in Umeå now I am surprised though to find how the birches are not bare yet, the town is all yellow! Fall in Seattle and fall in Umeå are surprisingly matching at this moment, although the colors are different.
My oldest son, now a young man, is picking me up at the airport. When he and his brother were young and we arrived in northern Sweden after spending time in the moist city of Seattle, they were running around the front yard, happy calves in their first spring meadow, hopping, singing “it’s so fresh and crisp here!” And I think that’s the scent of Umeå. Birches in the dry coolness of this not-that-far-from-the-polar-circle place.
Driving through Umeå now, I find myself as annoyed as sitting in afternoon traffic in Seattle. It didn’t use to be like this! It wasn’t that you had to plan ahead your routes through the town not to get all worked up, back at the house starving and just half of the errands done. So what’s happening? Well, there are more cars for sure, and just like Seattle Umeå is redesigning infrastructure. Right now there is pretty much nowhere you can escape the roadwork and the build-ups in rush hour. Can 115 000 people really make a rush hour? Yep. Unfortunately. And pollution too, pretty bad actually. So although Seattle is a big city and Umeå a small, the feeling sitting there is the same. Locked up in the grid. Again, it’s only the scales that are different.
In both cities though, we are heading for something better they say, the redesigning has a purpose of course and we are better off staying cool and patient waiting for the reward in a few years. Going with the flow. Or sitting in the non-flow… and maybe ride the bike tomorrow instead, smelling the birches and the cedar. Bicycles… well, there is another interesting subject…