There is a fortune to be made by tracking both the weather in Vaxholm, a small seaside town 45 minutes north of Stockholm, and the futures market for sunburn cream.
At least that's the get-rich-quick scheme that occurs to me on a brilliant summer afternoon while waiting at the ferry pier in Vaxholm, the gateway to the vast network of wooded islands that stretches out like a naval flotilla into the Baltic Sea. All around me are blonde Swedish families and young couples clutching backpacks and picnic baskets. All the faces are smiling. They are also very, very red.
But who can blame them for being unprepared for the sun? After all, for seven months of the year Sweden lies shrouded in cold and darkness. That's why when summer comes, with sunlight suddenly so abundant it almost feels liquid, Stockholmers and other Swedes rush outdoors with a biological urgency. "If the sun is out, you're outside. End of story," says my cousin Dale, who lived in Stockholm for five years and, along with my girlfriend, is with me in Vaxholm. And one of the best places in the world to be outside when the sun is out is the archipelago.