Friday April 10th, 2015 - The Letter I.
I is for Igelkott, which is the Swedish word for Hedgehog.
I think hedgehogs are adorable little animals, but they are not fluffy, furry, cuddly animals. They have spiny quills all over their backs.
They curl up into a spiny ball when they feel threatened. Here is a map of where hedges live in Europe.
The first time I saw a hedgehog was when I went to live with my Mormor (=maternal grandmother, literally 'mother's mother; as you have already learned from Tina Downey's Swedish lessons from A to Z in 2012; check out her lesson 'Far' here from 6th April 2012. ) when I was seventeen years old. My Morfar (=maternal grandfather) had passed away two years earlier. She moved from a huge house in the big city - Stockholm - to a small town, Arboga, and lived in a small cottage on a forest-covered hill, and a garden with strawberry plants. Mormor's garden was frequently visited by hedgehogs.
In the early mornings we could see them near the edge of the bushes in her garden. We gave them milk in a saucer (even though they actually prefer to eat earthworms and insects).
Many years later, when I was having my ups and downs financially and had to take all kinds of odd jobs to make ends meet, I worked for a few weeks delivering daily newspapers. I would go out at one am and work until sunrise wheeling a cart full of Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet, running up and down the stairs of garden apartment houses in a suburb of Stockholm. It was quiet, and I could see hares running across the green and wooded park areas between the dwellings. It was May. A good time to work the night-shift outdoors. The smell of fresh air and spring with everything starting to bloom: trees, grass, flowers. In every other tree there were nests filled with families of birds chirping as the sky grew pale. And there, between running in and out of doors, stuffing papers into mail-slots getting my hands and clothes blackened and sooty-looking papers from the printing-ink, these pairs of hedgehogs - and they were courting! A male hedgehog circling around a female. They did a little hedgehog-dance about hedgehog-love.
I was not very happy at that time. But seeing these little spiny creatures reminded me of happier times with Mormor and gave me hope for the future. They are not cuddly, but loveable in their own thorny way.
It's soon the right time of year to find my prickly friends. I think I'll take a walk through the woods at dawn tomorrow.
Do you want to know what a hedgehog sounds like? Click here and then click on the image that looks like this:
Or click here.