Apr 25, 2010

 Spring has Sprung!

You always hear that,
"Spring is a time to celebrate new life",
 and for us this year on the farm, those words were very true in many different ways.

  Manny was sent off on his mission, certainly a "new life" experience for him and for us, to be without him.  We wondered how it would be with him gone...

  The lambing and calfing began the very next day, "new life" in the animal kingdom, with the two ewes pictured above giving birth to twins and triplets respectively.

 In short order, Margo the cow surprised us by giving birth to this caramel and white heifer calf !  I didn't know such a thing could happen from a black and white father and a brownish-black mother...but it did. And the calf was strong and healthy, absolutely beautiful.

Most Importantly:

  Within a week we had the Easter season to celebrate, reminding us of the atonement of the Savior and the "new life" that event brings to each of us, making it possible for us to repent of our mistakes and move forward each day with a clean slate. 
How Wonderful! 

Every April we look forward to General Conference, from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah where we see and hear via satellite or the internet, messages of hope and instruction from our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and other General Authorities of the Church.
It is an opportunity to do more as an individual, or parent, or child or sibling. Hearing the addresses is a motivation to live a "new and better life".

So Inspiring.

On the visual side of nature, there is a Spring tradition in Sweden that I had never heard of or seen before coming to the farm.  Gustav went out into the forest and gathered this bunch of birch branches - lifeless from all appearances - and stacked them up by the front steps.  I brought them into the house and got busy trimming them down so that they could be put into a crock with water on a small table in the kitchen.
Of course there were plenty more than this one crock would hold, so we got out Farmor Birgitta's copper hod and polished it up until it was gleaming.

It would also be filled with the naked birch branches and some water and put into the TV room on the floor by the kakelugn (ceramic fireplace), although it would not be decorated like the one in the kitchen would be.  In the copper hod only the natural branches were displayed.
   Next we got out the box that is labeled "PÅSK DEKORATIONS", holding all the Easter ornaments for the household.   These include brightly colored feathers, small glass teardrops (some clear, some various shades of blue), white wooden birds,  ribboned papier mache easter eggs, etc.
All are attached to the bare birch branches.  The first time I saw it I wondered what in the world it could all be?  I only had to wait a little while to find out.

Traditionally done two weeks ahead of time, when the snow is thick on the ground and the wind is still howling outside,  as the days progress towards Easter Sunday, the seemingly lifeless branches begin to bud...then small flecks of green appear, and finally they leaf out completely!  It is such a glorious process, you find yourself watching it every  day for some sign of "new life" to materialize....and it does.

And this year, for the first time, we were amazed to see one of the branches in Farmor Birgitta's hod put out a small flower-like pod.  It has never happened was something else that was NEW!
We were thrilled.

The Foods of the Season:
First of all comes the Semla (Semlor - plural - because you never could eat only ONE..).  A yeast bun that is plain but just a bit sweeter than usual, with the top cut off and the inside hollowed out.  Then you put almond paste down into the cavity and fill the whole thing up with very slightly sweetened whipped cream.  Replace the triangle top that you cut out for the hollowing, put the whole thing in a bowl, and pour boiling milk around it until it FLOATS!  Sprinkle with cinnamon, and as Auntie Lauralee always said, "Eat the entire thing yourself!"
It is so delicious, you would never imagine.  Somehow the milk makes it all sweeter.  It is warm and creamy and sweet, and "bun-ny" and a piece of heaven on a cold, early Spring day.  There is even a special day when you are to eat as much semlor as you can all day. 

Pretty fun.

During the actual Easter week and on Easter Sunday, most people in this area eat lamb, Jonsson's Frestelse (Johnson's Temptation), asparagus, and salmon or other kinds of fish.  That is the 'ready to go into the oven' Jonsson's on the left. Dotted with chunks of butter, it is similar to scalloped potatoes but made with straight cream (and lots of it) and is layered with anchovies - yes, it's true, but you really don't taste anchovy or fish, it just tastes kind of full-bodied.  There is a reason why it is such a popular food item in Sweden, it is a  taste treat sensation...very satisfying.  On the right, also ready for the oven, is a  filet of salmon so large we had to cut it in three pieces.  It was baked on a salt bed with minced onion, melted butter,  parsley and dill.

And these two antique canning jars, reportedly from the 1940's, were found in a small shop in the village. The man told me they had had them for years and years but no one wanted them. I did the only sensible thing and bought every one that they had - a total of eleven small and one large. They hold my first attempt at making two kinds of pickled herring or "sill" (pronounced 'seal' in Swedish),  from scratch.  Sill is a basic food item that comes in many varities and is eaten universally all over Scandinavia.  These two are Inlagtsill on the left and Löksill on the right.  Both are made with their own unique brine and must be left to stand for several days before chilling and eating.  I was wondering how they would be and Hans, the sill afficionado,  said they were delicious...

 Another thing that was new.

All in all it has been a wonderful Spring and Easter season here on the farm.  There have been many new things in our lives, and all feel right and good.
We love the admonition from an old hymn,
"New life impart to us this day,
And bid the Spirit live".

We hope the Spirit of Easter and the feeling of new life all around this Spring touches your hearts as it has touched ours.

Glad Påsk!

1 comment:

em-il-ie said...

The girls LOVED the baby sheepies!