The Postscript: A Swedish surprise in checking the calendar
Published 12:02 am Wednesday, January 6, 2021
My 2021 calendar is hanging from the closet door.
Every year I’ve lived in this house, I’ve gotten a cloth calendar, hung from a dowel. My mother’s mother always had a cloth calendar hanging in the farmhouse kitchen. As soon as the year was over, the calendar would be conscripted into use, usually to cover cinnamon rolls as they rose, to keep them moist until they were large enough to put into the oven.
Arriving at the farmhouse and seeing “1963” covering a pile of soon-to-be-baked sweet rolls was a wonderful sight and I will forever associate those cloth calendars with the anticipation of sweet things. I guess that’s why I have one now. It’s good to anticipate sweet things in the coming year.
My 2021 calendar is from Sweden. This means all the months are written in Swedish, surrounded by wildflowers identified in Swedish. My grandmother was a Swede, so I thought this was appropriate. But the real reason I ordered the calendar was that it was the only one I could find with legible dates.
Cloth calendars have apparently come into vogue and I had more choices than in past years, many in jazzy and colorful patterns. Unfortunately, the graphic designers responsible for these works of art did not seem to expect that a person might use the calendar for actual reference. I use the calendar to find the date—an apparently antiquated idea.
All the calendars I found would require a strenuous search to locate the month of April amidst all the artwork and no easy way to tell how many weeks there were from April until a date in May. And so, while they were attractive, the calendars wouldn’t be very useful until they were used to cover sweet rolls.
But the Swedes have a reputation for being a practical bunch and this calendar looked more legible in Swedish than any I found in English, so I ordered it.
It wasn’t until it arrived that the problem became apparent.
Instead of seven columns for the seven days of the week, there were eight, with an additional column on the left for half the months and on the right for the rest. Someone finally explained that this column told me what week of the year it was. Saturday is in red, so it is possible to get one’s bearings—but not without considerable effort.
But even before the calendar arrived, the year seemed filled with more uncertainty than any I can remember.
There is a careless confidence that comes with the making of plans. In the past, I have looked at my calendar on the wall and imagined I had some idea of what would happen in the weeks to come. Because the dates were neatly lined up, I couldn’t imagine life becoming disordered.
This year, that whole idea seems a little preposterous.
Because I never really knew what would happen in the coming week—that was the lesson learned in 2020. This year, I won’t be nearly so confident as Januari turns to Februari and then Mars.
Of course, I am optimistic, as I always am. I am hoping this new year will bring sweet things. But now I’m thinking having my weeks laid out oddly—with the months written in a foreign language, surrounded by flowers I can’t identify—may be an appropriate way to look at the coming year.
This year may require some translation. It may require a little study. This whole year is a big Swedish surprise, waiting to happen.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Till next time,
Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.