In thinking about how popular Nordic crime fiction has become, I initially thought the answer was obvious. In a land of such great beauty and peacefulness, I mused, why wouldn’t serial fiction set here be desirable?
And yet, because of the demands of the crime fiction genre, which must be fast paced, most of the authors of ‘Nordic noir’ give very little description of the landscape. A typical, plot-forwarding sentence (that I made up) might be: ‘He opened the report on his desk and grimaced. The wife’s finger prints were found on the door knob. Within thirty minutes he was speeding along the E4, determined to talk with her.’
But what did the cop see along the way? What’s the landscape like?
So for today’s post (the first of a photo oriented series), I’m going to lay out some photos of Sweden in the warmer months taken along one of the main highways about 20 minutes south of Stockholm. On other days I’ll do winter, Stockholm itself, other parts of Sweden, and I’ll do a bit on other countries as well.
The thing that always strikes me the most about these photos? Space. For a small country, there is an awful lot of land. Just to compare: there are 60 million people in the UK, which is about 94,000 square miles, while Sweden is about 174,000 square miles with a population of only 9 million. The state of California is roughly the same size as Sweden, but has a population of about 37 million.
In another post, I’ll be looking at population size and density and its effect on Swedish crime fiction. For one thing, I find these photos to be lovely, but also a little melancholy…and sometimes even lonely.
So here we go:
In July in Sweden the fields tend to turn an amazing golden yellow, thanks to the flowers on rapeseed plants.
At other times during the warm months, the fields look more like this. Most of the neighborhoods have a few of these fields (and a small forest) between them. The footpaths are lined with wildflowers, wild strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, black and red currant, and those cute red, white spotted (deadly poisonous) mushrooms. Acres of blueberries grow on the forest floors, as well as chanterelle mushrooms.
Thankfully, there are neighborhoods to break up the drive, as well as large manor houses like this one. Some are converted into golf course club houses or resort hotels; others are privately owned.
At the lower right hand corner of this photo, you can see a horse grazing. Swedes enjoy their equestrian sports, perhaps particularly show jumping, and the high quality of their Swedish warmblood stock speaks volumes. There are horses everywhere in this country! It seems almost a rite of passage for young Swedish girls to attend riding camp in the summers.
Swedes also like their golf courses, and they certainly have the room for it. With plenty of rain, the fairways are always green.
This used to be a castle (a ‘slott’ in Swedish); then it was modernized into a manor house. Now it is the above golf course’s club house.
The final shot was taken from our airplane–though this is probably well north of Stockholm.
More photos another time!