My Sambo and I moved to Lund in late autumn last year. Lund represents the highest latitude at which I have ever lived. This meant darkness creeping in surprisingly early in the afternoons, and increasingly so until the winter solstice. 3 pm felt like “evening” and 8 was the depth of the dark night. Even during the day, clouds and fog obscured the sun so much that a clear night’s moon was equally as bright as the day’s sun. The fog crept into my head as well, dampening energy and clouding any ambition.
Routine became the savior of salvaging productivity. One of these routines was walking up a hill each “evening” to survey the landscape and reflect on the day. At the top of the hill is an iconic fixture in Lund: the sillouhettes of two metallic bulls, facing off with one another. An eye-catching icon on a hillside at the edge of town is especially wont to accumulate its share of graffiti. Cryptically sprayed on one bull during our first couple months in Lund was, “Nej till ESS!” On the other was the universal nuclear warning sign.
At the time, I had no idea what was meant by the graffiti. It seemed a code crackable only by Lund insiders. Upon each sighting I was reminded of the ignorance, carried with much chagrin, I suffered from as a new immigrant.
Little did I know that a few short months later, I would be blogging about ESS and even countering the emphatic “Nej” painted on the side of the bull. (Lund is very kind to immigrants and gently dusts off the ignorance we newbies inherently bring.)
However, the message there sprayed still speaks loudly to me (…not to mention, finally comprehensibly…). It’s the sort of message that often finds itself cloaked in spray paint on the hillside by the highway rather than backed by millions of kronor of promised economic prosperity. On the down side, the ESS project brings with it change, lots of energy consumption, a little radioactivity, and the potential for us to all get sucked into a black hole it unwittingly creates (more later). A few things to consider (and one in which to find comic relief).
Yet for me, the promise of cutting-edge science taking place just a skate’s blade from my turf is way exciting. So I say, “Yay till ESS!”