Sunday, July 19, 2009

It’s Raining Sill

I’m in the process of moving. I intend to make it the final move I make in Sweden before moving back to the US. It really is just a pain in the ass.

Suddenly, I have to clean places I forgot existed. Like the corner in the kitchen. Or the sides of the toilet. Or the balcony.

Now I didn’t forget the balcony existed. It’s hard to forget something like that. Since I’ve been in the US though, the balcony went unused for a few weeks. And actually, since I’ve been back it has also gone unused. Until today.

I decided I needed to sweep a bit and clean up. So out to the balcony I went when I was met with a bit of a surprise. An old herring. Sill.

Sill is kind of a Swedish tradition. One of those Swedish foods at which Americans might wrinkle their nose. It’s pickled fish. Usually eaten at Christmas, but also during Midsummer. The Swedes mix it with all kinds of things. My favorite is senapssill. Herring with mustard sauce. I like sill, but it isn’t something I eat on a regular basis. And it most definitely isn’t something I have eaten on the balcony. Especially since I’ve been gone.

In my disgust I kicked at the sill only to watch it fall through the cracks. That’s when I realized how it might have ended up on my balcony. Because rather than falling all the way to the sidewalk, it stopped. On the balcony below me. Oops.

Welcome to Sweden. Where sill falls from the sky.

Subscribe to a Swedish American in Sweden


  1. Good thing you're moving, in case the neighbors downstairs figure out that you've been raining stinky sill on their balcony. I imagine retaliation for that sort of offense would be swift and severe-- though perhaps not in Sweden.

  2. I'm moving across the country right now. It's such a pain! It's not just the packing & driving 3 days and unpacking, but all the other crap in between. Unfortunately, I'll only be where I'm going for a year and a half, so it all feels incredibly toilsome. Moving sucks. Hang in there.

  3. I'll be interested in hearing how you transition from Sweden back to the US goes. 'Cause all of this has been interesting so far. It's been a trip I needed to see from this perspective.

  4. Were will you move to? To an other neighbourhood in Stockholm, or to an other city?

  5. @Michael - it's true. I need to flee the scene of the crime.

    @E - at least youre moving quite a ways. Its even harder to get motivated when youre just going a short ways. But a year and a half does make it rough. Bt who are we kidding, regardles... its rough.

    @Isle - I definitely think Ill have myself some culture shock when I head back. But theres still a ways before that happens.

    @anonymous - just another neighborhood. Still going to be in Stockholm.

  6. We have a saying in Finland that "Shit slides downwards" - meaning that the boss gives orders to smaller bosses who in turn delegate them to their underlings and so on. In Sweden you practise it with herrings. Why not, LOL!

  7. Good thing it was just a piece of "sill" and not "surströmming". Magdalena Ribbing, an "etiquette-expert", recommended (as a joke) not long ago that if a neighbour is smoking on their balcony, you could take your revenge by lowering down some "surströmming".

  8. I'm not sure you gave enough attention to how clean Swede's expect apartments to be when you leave. My native Swedish girl friend and I spent two full days cleaning places I had never scene before. If everyone does that before moving - great, but I'd rather they didn't and I spent the cleaning time instead on my new place. Still, kind of a quaint tradition, like giving three months notice before moving.

  9. @smek - I love it. In fact, I think Im going to start putting something similar into use. Everytime I am given something to do that I dont want to, rather than send an e-mail I am going to package some sill and a letter explaining what needs to be done and send it along.

    @Ida - wow. That should probably be classified as assault. That stuff is bad. I love the article though.

    @anonymous - what really gets me is the several months notice. Same thing for jobs, a lot of times it is at least two months notice once you are employed full time.