The start of the season is tough because wherever you start to store the snow is where it will be for the next five months. If you store it too close to the paths or driveways, by January there will be no room left to store snow. You have to push it way out to the boundaries and pile it up there, hard to do when there are no paths. A laborious process of pulling a sled of snow backwards up the hill is the only way to do it.
As we slowly cleared a path down towards the garage I peered over the fence at the neighbour’s ‘gård’. Winter is the time he collects his extra vehicles and equipment down there, and there they languish under piles of snow until the spring. I see a 7-Up drinks dispenser machine has been added to the collection this year, looking rather out of place in the snow.
After six days of shovelling and hauling we reached the garage. Our car, nestled inside, has its own engine heater and it seems it didn’t mind resting there at all. It started without complaint, but it needed winter tyres to be legal.
Two tyres were changed but then the jack broke, leaving the car stranded in the air. We needed a new jack, and we needed a car to get to the spare parts shop to buy one. Mm. Kick sled to the rescue.
Rolf described a feeling of amazement, sliding down the path by the main road, that he was off to buy something using a kick sled. He wasn’t brought up in this part of Sweden, and the kick sled is really a form of transport for the far north. It felt a delicious kind of novelty, he told me afterwards, despite the head winds and snow flurries.
Arriving at the shop he realised he really was a novelty. This was two months too late to change to winter tyres (we’d been away for the start of the winter) and in addition Rolf was strangely concerned about the size of the box – it needed to fit on the kick sled, he explained.
‘You came to buy this using your kick sled?’ The sales assistant looked charmed.
A kick sled is a common form of transport here in the winter. For people doing their shopping. For teenagers on a joyride down a hill after an evening’s drinking.
But why use one to buy something heavy from a car spare parts shop? Why not use your second or third car, your old disused car, your classic car, or even your tractor?
We are people living in Kiruna with only one car. Now that’s a novelty.