“Relax!” What a nice call! I am having a ride through downtown Umeå noticing those small wooden beach chairs in Rådhusparken (The City Hall Park). I like to think it was my airy blue and white-striped dressed bedroom that evoked the strike of summer Umeå is enjoying right now. And Rådhusparken facing the river packed with people on blankets is the very symbol for Summer Umeå. Those chairs were new to me and I like them, there is something Seattleish about them, something generous and playful. It turned out it is the fashion and accessory store Åhléns across the street who is being playful, and why not!
Driving from my village into Umeå you pass the river. All of this winter, riding over the bridges going to my treatments, I have been watching the building cranes reaching the sky making Umeå grow and change. Big things are in the works, and it’s just so exciting!
The Forsete block, right in the city center has been a mall for 30 years, and is now going through a complete redesign, inside out. A functional style building had to go down to make the plans for the new block come true, something the preservers were upset about, of course. What’s being built is something very different and I do like it a lot!
Some years ago I was writing a series of articles for the main local newspaper Västerbottens Kuriren, VK. The topic was the exterior of the city and how I would like it to change. The colors of Umeå is red brick, some painted wood, green birches and the blue river. It’s cohesive, but it’s not interesting or exciting. It looks like a lot of fairly young Swedish towns (in Swedish measurements); it’s hard to tell them from each other. It’s flat and kind of stocky, the red brick makes it heavy. The birches in Umeå though, giving the city a lift.
I had the picture of something different, something standing out, adding a new element, light and reflections. I was inspired by Seattle of course. The colors of downtown Seattle are different shades of blue and glass, reflecting the water from Elliot Bay and the sky. Seattle downtown is becoming quite dense, but the skyline still feels light and bright, lifting towards the sky. It’s nothing but beautiful.
So, watching the tall part (a hotel) of the Forsete block mall climbing over the Umeå red brick and roof tops, exterior covered in white and blue glass, I am like… that’s what I asked for, that’s what I pictured! It’s quite amazing I have to say. Trouble 1 is driving me a lot and we are both so excited! And when I am riding with home care Peter I am telling him, look at this, this is what Seattle looks like, don’t you just love it!
I appreciate that this new element might feel strange and odd for some Umebor (inhabitants of Umeå), but give it some time. And in a couple of weeks as the exterior of Väven, the new building for cultural arts at the waterfront will be coming up, the façade of those two buildings will start communicate and I think we will understand every word. I can’t wait!
So, Seattle had an early heat wave a couple of weeks ago with Santa Fe temperatures. I was very envious. Here, two days ago, there was still a tiny rest of snow at the end of the road in my village. Today, the lawn needs to be mowed. Two days ago I was wearing my wool sweater. Today I am soaking the sun in my bikini. That’s how summer happens here, on the 64th latitude. It hits you! Boom! It’s not Santa Fe temperatures but it’s 77° F (25 C) and that’s very warm for this time of year. The birch leaves are coming out and Umeå is covered in a magic light green sky. Umeborna is also coming out of their winter hibernation, swarming the outdoor cafés and restaurants; it’s probably really hard to find a seat somewhere.
This I know from experience and Facebook. I follow my friends having a lovely city weekend. I can’t join, of course. But I am really happy that I’ve been able to sit outside too! Trouble 1 and friend Erik took out all my garden furniture the other day and dressed my front yard in summer clothes. And yesterday there was this big Koja (Tree house) day, with lots of beautiful young adults working on keeping their childhood, and I had a wonderful afternoon in the sun sharing what’s important in life with lovely Ida and Josefin, We talked for hours!
And this afternoon Peter helped me with the most important sign of summer: rolling my Le Baron convertible out of my grandfather’s snug old coach house! I haven’t been driving for half a year. Not even sitting behind a steering wheel. I took a deep breath. Not because I was worried about my ability of driving. But because it still feels like light years until my physics would allow me to. It was really important to me though to back the car out of it’s winter garage in person, Peter got to be my eyes in the back. And then I drove the twenty meters for parking it in my carport. Oh, what a feeling! The feeling of empowerment! I am sitting in my beautiful summer car, and I am driving! If only for twenty meters…
I can tell rain is coming up in Seattle. And I’m sure my wool sweater will be back on in a few days. But I hope the new gorgeous Umeå glass facades will last for a very long time. And maybe I can drive by by myself with the top down before the summer is up…