Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Burning candles

Time for some Christmas decorations.

Elektrisk ljusstake.... That is, electric candlestick. It belonged to my grandmother Sigrid (Mormor, to me), and it must be fifty or sixty years old. I don't know how things were done in those days but I've never needed to change a bulb.

In i minsta koja nu julljuser lyser...

In the least of hovels now Christmas lights shine...

Alice Tegnér, "Kring julgranen"

Swedes must have appreciated this convenient replacement for so many candles. Animal tallow or a coal-fired power station... Which is worse for the environment? (But in Sweden very little electricity comes from fossil fuels; it's mostly nuclear and hydroelectric.)

As Tegnér's song makes clear, Yuletide wasn't just about artificial light. It also marked the end of the dark season of autumn and the beginning of winter, "when snow lights up the north".


Another power-related musing, while surveying local woods for unusual plants. When were stump grinders invented? It looks like the first modern one was not until 1956. Before that, they required several people. (I'd like to know more about how that worked.)

Before that, tree stumps would simply have been left until they broke down, which takes about ten years. Not long.

I was thinking about the wood where I found the rare plant Green Hound's-tongue. The trees are only about thirty years old. I expected there would be some sign if the ground had previously been forested, but apparently that's not the case. If mature trees were felled thirty years ago, the stumps would have disappeared by now. I feel unconvinced, but I guess I'll have to go with that.

Stump harvesting (for fuel) was carried out in Swedish forests in the 1970s and is apparently attracting interest once more.


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