Tanya Borodina
sweden teaches
TO CHERISH NATURE
Even when I traveled to Sweden on a vacation, I always discerned a certain affinity between Swedes and nature, and vice versa.

Forests, meadows and lakes are of great splendor and value here, and Swedes are known for their habit to share everything precious and valuable. This is where the law on universal right to access natural resources comes from. According to the law, people are free to reside outdoors (including swimming, pitching a tent, picking berries and riding a bicycle), as well as on private land. But with any rights comes the responsibility, and it is considered that everyone's ought to treat the natural environment with great care.

Such contemplative attitude towards nature is reflected in Swedish names, or more specifically, their surnames. The most popular ones (following those that mention ancestors, i.e. Andersson, Johansson, etc.) are connected with nature: Lindberg (meaning 'leafed mountain'), Bergstöm ('mountain stream'), Lundberg ('mountain grove'), and Lindqvist ('linden branch').

It would be understatement to say that cites are full of greenery — cities are made of greenery, concrete, brick, and wood. Many buildings have long-time relationship with ivy or vines. It's not unusual to discern moss, heather and other sorts of herbage accustomed to tough Swedish weather conditions on top of the bus stations and roofs.

Parks and squares are made wisely and carefully, but without ostentatious scrupulosity. Color-schemes are elaborate, and such factors as winter, bad weather and somberness are taken into consideration. That is why there are partly evergreen plants, partly gracefully falling leaves, and partly turning-reddish-by-winter scrubs. Swedes adore parks, and with the first warm days citizens rush to the lawns, be it someone walking with their children, or dogs, or accompanied by friends, grill, and beer. Even now, walking in the autumn park you can get as much buckthorn, hawthorn, and briar berries as you want.

I as an ex-Muscovite dweller was astonished by the diversity of fauna in the cities.
Well, you have your typical pigeons, crows, and gulls, as always. Add ducks here as well. Ducks, by the way, inhabit not only the ponds and the surrounding areas, but make their way to the center of the city, leisurely strolling around there. It gets better from now: several breeds of geese, swans, hares and even hedgehogs. You can stumble upon elks, deer, and hogs in the forest.
Sweden finally resolved my dilemma of where is the best place to live, either in the city or in the country. Actually, you don't have to choose between the two. There are enough cities merged with nature in Sweden.

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