A little bit less than 3 months ago, I moved to Sweden, along with my family, all of us heading to a country known in the US, if it's known at all, for long winters, extreme day lengths, and for being a bogeyman of something described as 'socialism', which conjures up a combination of laziness, ennui, the nanny state, high taxes, and impending economic collapse as a result of high deficits.
One prior (summertime) visit to Sweden hinted at some other possibilities. The vast majority of the population appeared healthy, well-dressed, and reasonably happy -- noticeably different from the highly visible poverty and diversity in health and well-being visible in the US. Infrastructure everywhere was of high quality and well-tended. Stockholm seemed extraordinarily safe, and, as a parent, the high number of youngish, largish families who looked pretty un-stressed out was noticeable too.
Not that everything here was an idyllic socialist wonderland -- indigent Roma people are everywhere, apparently completely unplugged from any support, assistance or safety net. Something that felt open and welcoming in the summer felt closed and stifled in the winter.
I had resolved to write regularly in Stockholm. The stresses of work and relocation have delayed that a bit. Unfortunately, I'm beyond the 'wonder' stage now, but I'm going to try and make up for some lost time. This is the introduction.