Sweden. Day 30. Snow, squirrels and sea eagles.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. The strong winds died down, but snow came back with a vengeance, and today it has been snowing continuously the whole day. Perhaps it was not an ideal for walking, and more conducive to baking, but I feel I need to do at least a short daily walk everyday, especially since I will be leaving Björkö soon.

The morning started with a low flying object that turned out to be a red helicopter (to be precise, it was this helicopter here, SE-JOS), apparently used for liming. Liming is the process of spraying limestone or hydrated lime on the soil to reduce its acidity. At this time, however, it seemed to be just supervising the area. I waved.

The helicopter left; tired of looking up, I looked down, and saw a red squirrel. Red helicopters, red squirrels, that’s how it is in Sweden. In Canada the most common squirrels are the eastern grey squirrels, which reproduce like rabbits and look a bit like rats with fluffy tails, but Northern Europe has the red squirrel which is, to much mind, much cuter. They look as if they have large pointed ears, but it’s actually just hair around the ears protecting them from the cold. It appears to increase in size in winter, so from far away they can look almost like rabbits.

After looking at my camera, the squirrel fled. I walked a bit more through the forest, and as I was getting back to the main road, I saw a large bird flying high up, past me, towards the frozen lake. I thought it was an eagle, as it seemed so large, but I could not take a good picture (actually, there seemed to be two hovering around). I asked Anna Viola, and she said that it could be a sea eagle, as they have been seen in the area. In fact, the map of Björkö-Arholma down in the kitchen has a drawing of one of them, right on top of the picture of the local church.

However, it appears that sea eagles are a rare sight: once almost on the brink of extinction, they were brought back by conservationists but still not in large numbers: there are supposedly only around 350 breeding pairs in all of Sweden. If I saw two, then I saw a statistically significant number of all sea eagles in Sweden.

But was it really an eagle? I still had some doubts, so in the afternoon — after baking a carrot and orange cake — I went out again, this time to take pictures of the little church nearby. I don’t know why, but, for some reason, I find the image of a little church being covered by falling snow something very romantic. I had forgotten about the eagles, but, as I was taking pictures of the church, lo and behold, an eagle passed flying over it — just like in the map in the kitchen! Again I could not take a good photograph, but I checked her wings, comparing them to the drawing on the maps, and, yes, I am pretty sure it was a sea eagle.

So that was my contact with the local fauna today — I am still waiting for moose and lynxes, but still, it was better than nothing. And it is still snowing, and it will snow all day and probably all night, and perhaps all week.

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” (James Joyce)