Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Celebrating Autumn Without Pumpkins?

picture from Wikipedia

 I love Autumn and all of the fall traditions that are associated with it.  It is apples, hay rides, harvest themes, and Pumpkins everywhere!

Well, not everywhere... my little sister is in Sweden and I read her blog post this morning, poor girl is having to celebrate Autumn without Pumpkins!
I loved her post and wanted to share it here.


In a world without pumpkins

Despite everything there is to love about Sweden, early on I learned the sad truth that Swedes don't take autumn nearly as seriously as Americans do. Add to that the fact that most Americans don't take autumn as seriously as I do and you might begin to understand the level of my disappointment. What is the point of September if not to begin indulging in pumpkin-flavored treats galore, all washed down with fresh apple cider? (Hot or cold, I'm not picky.) And can anyone really say they've lived until they've inexplicably sat on a bale of hay in the back of a tractor, eating a fresh cinnamon doughnut in brisk October night air? (I'm not sure why cake doughnuts are autumnal, but is it even worth questioning?) Maybe I'll forgive the Swedes for ignoring the whole bobbing-for-apples deal, but speaking of which: aren't we supposed to be rejoicing every moment at the fact that myriad varieties of apples are now in season and ready to be dipped in caramel-and-even-nuts-if-that's-your-thing? 

They don't do Halloween here, from what I hear. No jack-o-lanterns. And not only is there no Pumpkin Smash Jamba Juice, pumpkin bagels at Einstein's, pumpkin cheesecake (Olive Garden, you are a god-send), pumpkin cream cheese, or pumpkin ice cream to speak of, it seems nigh unto impossible to even find Libby's pumpkin puree in a can so as to make my own pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or pumpkin bread. When I asked Miranda about Sweden's relationship to pumpkin on my second day in the country (because yes, I was already thinking about it back in August), she just looked bemused. "Umm... I guess you can find pumpkins. Yeah, we have them here. Why do you ask?"

That, unfortunately, was all I needed to hear. I knew I would have to surrender the opportunity to celebrate autumn in all its glory with my usual vigor and vim. I simply just wouldn't have the resources.

One nice thing, I suppose, is that the leaves still got the memo to change color here. And they are so lovely. Also, it got colder faster than it does in the U.S., particularly in Utah, so I didn't have to deal with that pesky Indian summer business. But I'm also worried that winter is nigh on our doorstep, at the ready to steal autumn away from us prematurely. We had the first snow of the season last week, though it didn't stick, and I am pretty sure that in addition to being Nap/Yet-Lag Girl, I am fast becoming the-American-who-can't-handle-the-weather-here because I'm always moseying around with warmer sweaters and jackets than anyone else and still shivering. It has been in the 30s/40s Fahrenheit for the past week or so, which isn't horrible, but cold enough to be unanticipated by my body in late September. Plus, I think seeing the temperature in Celsius every day (for example, it's 7 degrees right now) plays a mind trick so that everything seems hopelessly colder.

But seriously, these trees (which are more vibrantly colored now, a couple weeks after I took this photo). And the gorgeous overcast skies that northern Sweden seems to favor. 
Count me in.

I finally decided to take matters into my own hands yesterday and go out to buy the supplies to at least make an apple crisp. I have already enjoyed the seasonal deliciousness of apple crisp twice with church members on Sunday afternoons. They refer to it as "apple pie," but I figure it's not worth arguing semantics when the only autumnal flavor currently available to my desperate palate is at stake. Even though I am no stranger to the kitchen thanks to my heightened interest in cooking the past few years, I had yet to really buy anything substantial for my pantry here. My scholarship covers meals in the cafeteria all week, and most weekends I'm in Umeå visiting church member families who feed me (and all too well). Thus, my need for anything beyond pasta, toast, and let's-face-it-delicious-Ballerina-cookies in my pantry was rather minimal. So it really was kind of an adventure to go and invest in flour, sugar, butter, and salt. It made my stay here feel more settled in. More permanent. Like I'm letting my heart take root.

As we were assembling the ingredients back in the kitchen in Roma (my dorm building), Linus seemed skeptical. "Are you sure we need this much...?" seemed to be the question of the night. Even if he didn't voice it out loud, I could tell he was thinking it. But as I dropped a huge block of butter into the bowl, I just smiled at him and said, "Trust me. It's the American way."

Proof positive that there is no such thing as too much butter? Beatrice, Linus, and I managed to almost finish off the entire Pyrex dish by ourselves last night while watching Amélie. (Okay, Linus watched the film. Bea and I stuffed our faces with dessert and slept. But even still, may I add that that is the second French-movie-with-Swedish-subtitles of my trip? I am beginning to feel truly international.)

Today I'm finishing off the last of the apple crisp in my room. The radiator by my bed is turned on high. I'm wearing my favorite sweater and smiling to myself with a certain conviction that I really have made a home for myself here. Even if it's pumpkin-less.


  1. What an interesting post. Can you at least send her some fake pumpkins? !

  2. Smiling and appreciating my pumpkins a bit more than usual now .

  3. Oh this was a great story I can feel the cold which I am so used to burrr it is cold here this morning but we do have pumpkins. Your sister is funny and she will survive:) She is so lucky to live in Sweden and she sounds so hilarious you are lucky to get to read her interesting funny posts. No pumpkins maybe she can grow some for next year:) B

    1. :) She is only there for a few months. She comes back to the States in time for Christmas :) I have a feeling Pumpkin Pie will be on the menu!

  4. Makes me want to send her a box fulled of canned pumpkin!

    1. We looked into sending her pumpkin, darned shipping cost. It would be the most expensive pumpkin pie ever made :)


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