December 2014 finds me in Saint Paul, enjoying the company of my neighbors in the Great Northern Lofts. While I posted briefly from Svanholm and wrote about hosting my Japanese friend Chika over the summer, and our subsequent trip together to Japan and South Korea, I feel like Svanholm deserves more coverage.
Cows’ Day fell on April 21st this year. As I explained last year, Cows’ Day is the day when all the organic farms in Denmark let their cows out from the barns to the fields for the first time in the spring. The normally slow-moving cows are so excited to go outside, that they stampede out of the barn, run into the field and “dance”. It is quite a sight. So much so that thousands of people come from Copenhagen to watch and Svanholm sells various foods and drinks in order to make some money that day. I was asked to run “Katy’s Coffee Shop” in the old boutique space, so I recruited my daughter and seven current and former guest volunteers to staff it with me for the four hours we were expected to be open. Last year about 5,000 visitors came out for the event, so imagine our surprise when 10,000 showed up this year! My front line staff dealt with the customers while I spent four hours frantically brewing one pot of coffee after the other to try and keep up with demand.
This year was especially fun in that I had several visitors over the course of my four-month stay. As always, it was a treat to have my daughter come from Copenhagen for visits and my wild and crazy Swedish friends also came to stir things up. In addition, my cousin Henry and his wife Robyn from the Bay Area stopped by and my friends Tal from Minnesota and Mark from L.A. stayed a little longer. Tal and I ventured over to Malmö so that he could add Sweden to his list of countries visited.
My friend Mark arrived in time to help out with the sheep shearing and stayed for about ten days, so we went to some places I had never been before, including Bakken, which bills itself as the world’s oldest amusement park. We tried out the wooden roller coaster, which we were assured has been rebuilt since it was first constructed.
If anyone is wondering about whether I ended up running in the Copenhagen Marathon…I didn’t. A two month training schedule is aggressive at any age and at 58 I should have known better. I developed a painful case of planter fasciitis, hitch hiking back to the farm when I finally gave in. The joy that came from the experience, though, was that my loaner bike took me on some great explorations in the countryside. I covered some beautiful territory, inhaling the fragrance of blooming rape seed. I stayed at Svanholm through mid-summer’s and the summer solstice celebration, flying home with Chika on June 30th.
I returned to Minnesota in time to enjoy my niece Kirstine’s wedding at the beginning of July. Both of my children came back to attend the festivities which took place in my sister-in-law’s back yard. After a torrential downpour things proceeded smoothly and a good time was had by all.
November included a week-long trip to visit my sister Barb in Michigan to enjoy her Potters’ Guild annual fall sale. Barb has been making beautiful functional pottery for years. I am grateful for and proud to use the plates, bowls and mugs she has given me. This year she started experimenting with ceramic reliefs. She had a lot of adorable chickens at the sale and one really cute giraffe with leg warmers.
November and Thanksgiving also presented the excuse to head to Cincinnati for a week to catch up with my brother Mike, et.al. My son Dane joined me there and Barb drove down on Friday to spend the weekend, so all was good.
Since this posting ostensively takes the place of a holiday newsletter, a brief update on my kids is in order: Dane is doing well, still working for Broadcom and living in Orange County, California. In addition to seeing him at the wedding in July and over Thanksgiving, I was happy to visit with him both coming and going from Japan. He continues to practice various martial arts and is still committed to creative writing when he can tear himself away from Netflix. I am counting down the days until he arrives for the Christmas holidays.
Bryn finished her master’s in Technological and Socio-Economic Planning in mid-August and left Denmark in mid-September. She is moving to the Los Angeles area in mid-January, but is currently enjoying a stopover in Vietnam where her love interest has been residing. Brian is an old friend from Swarthmore, originally from L.A., and he is looking forward to making the move back with her. It will be terrific to have her on this continent again!
Some have asked if having both children in southern California means I will be moving there. Others have asked if no longer having a daughter in Denmark means that I won’t be returning to Svanholm. No on both counts. I love both my homes (the condo in Saint Paul and whatever room I get assigned at Svanholm) and feel lucky to be part of two special communities. My current plan is to enjoy the Twin Cities through the winter and spring and return to Svanholm by the summer solstice in June. I will likely be there through the end of August, in case anyone wants to visit this year.
Happy holidays, everyone. Please stay in touch.