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November 14, 2020

With the time change, it’s wonderful to catch the morning sunrise. Lola thought so, too, when she decided to stay outside a while longer to lie down on the grass facing east with her head held high like a sphinx. So, I went back into the house to start my coffee.

Standing in the mudroom and pouring bottled water into the percolator, I stared out the window and took in the sun’s light slowly rising above the trees’ silhouette. It was 6:01 a.m. I couldn’t help recalling my days working in downtown Los Angeles when I commuted by bus and realized how lucky I was to see spectacular sunrises each morning.

More than ever, I realize the need to establish calm in our days as we shelter and work from home. So, yesterday I proclaimed the adoption of “fika” each afternoon.

Basically, it’s a coffee break. But “fika,” a cultural tradition of the Swedish people, means much more. It’s a time to relax with co-workers, friends, and family -- that involves stopping work or whatever you may be doing to sit down with a coffee or tea and, traditionally, a sweet pastry (preferably homemade), and to engage in meaningful conversation. Every day. Fika is an institution at just about every workplace in Sweden and an added benefit for employers is improved productivity. Like cheese fondue is a dish meant to enjoy with others, fika is not a solo endeavor.

I normally make coffee for Louie and me each afternoon. And I normally deliver his small cup to his desk with a chocolate on a napkin. Then, I normally take mine to my office to continue working.

But yesterday I set both cups on the dining table along with cinnamon chip scones I had made the other day.

“Today we start fika,” I announced as Louie sat on the couch pecking away on his computer keyboard.

“Oh…okay,” he replied as he got up eager to hear my explanation. Louie knew about fika, thanks to our wonderful Swedish neighbors who used to live across the street from us. Every now and then, Linda or Henrik would call on a whim, usually late afternoon. Without explanation, they asked, “Would you like to come over for fika?” Even though we really never knew what “fika” meant at the time, we innately accepted the invitation and walked on over. We sat at their cozy kitchen table as they made strong coffee and brought out a freshly baked snack. Linda baked beautiful, sweet creations. And Henrik’s gift was baking bread.

“I miss ‘The Swedes’,” Louie said.

“I know, I do, too.”

“This is your country, and it’s up to you to save it.” – English translation of a saying in Taiwan

Washing Hands + Wearing a Mask + Social Distancing = Saving Lives

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