I had got to my meeting on Master Samuelsgatan an hour early, so I went for a bite to eat at a cheap and cheerful restaurant near the church of Santa Clara.
The church has a wonderful enormously elongated green spire that made me think of the word “verdigris” as I went inside. When you are in the church, the ceiling, while beautiful, is no higher than that in any other church. The spire seems a symbol of spiritual aspiration, but it rises to the heavens somehow separated from the world in the church, pious tourists from China kneeling with serious Swedes under the vigilant gaze of the lady in charge of the church shop.
I was hungry after my 6.30 am flight.
The restaurant outside the church is very simple, with metal tables and aluminium chairs, each with a blanket on it so you can wrap up and keep warm in the hazy autumn sunshine. I asked for the soup of the day, which turned out to be a mushroom soup with a thick slice of seeded wholegrain bread. It was only 6 euros.
A grumpy old guy with grey hair sat opposite me, but he nodded when my steaming bowl of soup arrived, and I felt an immediate feeling of warmth to him and to the restaurant. He also was having the soup.
Later that day I would discuss with several friends about autumn in Sweden, the mushroom hunts, the feeling of winter coming on, the brief harvest before that, the sense of gratitude ahead of the long nights. I also felt the way the year is stretched between nights that last all day and days that last all night. The closeness to the seasons here is like the closeness you feel to a coat.
I was cold in my blue business suit, so I put the blanket over my legs. I tasted the mushroom soup. I was sure it had been made fresh, the thick creamy flavour made me think of morels, and it felt good and warm … and actually really wonderful.