Posts filed under Sweden

It all Started Here

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Finally a Summer at the Summerhouse

There is a place up north where I spent all my summers as a kid. It’s right by the water, surrounded by the deep pine and spruce forest. Just like many other Swedish summerhouses this one is red with white borders. My grandpa started building it 1950, and it was finally done in 1955 after a couple of setbacks. Not a single day is the same up there, sometimes you can’t see the other side of the bay because of all the mist, and other times the whole water body is clear as a mirror as you watch the sky turn pink when the sun sets. Sometimes, in the middle of the night you can watch the lightning penetrate the water from the large panorama windows in the living room. Sometimes you can smell the summer rain in the morning or that strong and sometimes overwhelming smell of labrador tea if you are out on the mire.

This is where I learned the names of the different plants that are common in the boreal forest. That same knowledge that brought me to Alaska and then later on gave me free trip to Nome. Pine, spruce, labrador tea, fireweed, larch, birch and the list can continue in all eternity. This is where I learned when to pick the blueberries and how to make blueberry porridge. This is where I learned where the gold of the north grows, and the pain you sometimes have to go through to get those precious berries. But more importantly, this is where I learned how to swim, fish, and care about the nature.

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It’s a Fishy Business

At the summerhouse our main food source was the fish. We ate (well i guess we still do) fish for breakfast lunch and dinner. In the evenings we would get the boat out and go fishing farther into the bay. Sometimes we took the boat out to the “black sea” as we used to call it, because it was so deep and the water was all black out there, and tried our luck with the fishing nets out there. That place scared me, but it was always a thrilling adventure to go all the way out there. Most often though we took the boat out and laid our fishing nets straight out from the shoreline. This became something that I helped my dad with a lot. Laying out the fishing net in the evening, and picking it back up early next morning, before the seagulls started to get into them.

This summer W, his mom and aunt came with me to Sweden and the summerhouse. We had such a nice time and I loved that I was finally able to show them where my roots are. In the evening we all went out in the boat and put out three fishing nets and wished for the best.

As a fisherman, or fisherwoman the are no late mornings, and we got up early the next day to claim our bounty before the seagulls did.

Once the nets are back up on dry land the tedious work begins. First, the struggle to untangle and remove the fish from the net, and second to clean the net.

My dad of course knows how to untangle the nets like the back of his hand. He is a man of many trades and being a fisherman is one. He easily balances around the stones by the beach before he pushes out the boat from the shore wearing his clogs, just as easy as he removes the fish from the net. He knows exactly how much or how little of the juniper you need to get that perfect smell and flavor of a smoked fish.

Life is calmer at the summer house, and maybe this is also where I learned to appreciate life. From now on a visit to the summerhouse will be on my bucketlist for every single year ahead. If you ever wonder how it is to feel rich, this is it. A freezer full of fish and berries, and everything else you can acquire from the land.

When I was young my mom taught me how to clean and fillet the fish, she was a master of this and one summer I became one too. That was a long time ago, and I can’t really remember how to do it. But every now and then when we buy whole fish I magically know exactly where to cut the fish to remove the bones. My dad was doing this job now, he claims he’s not good at it, that mom was the master. The more I think about it, the more I understand where my ability to prepare things from scratch comes from. It all started here.

She who brings the Light

When the memories are fading...

Det är en storm påväg inatt, rannsaka och bekänn
Guds son ska komma nerstigen från himmelen igen
Du ska stå naken framför sanningen och jordens alla kval
Han ska pröva din styrka, han ska testa din moral
— Lars Winnerbäck - Elegi

Where is America going

It has now been two years since my mom passed, but I still think about her every day. Lately I have started to panic because I feel as if I am grasping for memories that are slowly starting to disappear, to fade away. Maybe one of the reasons for this is that I already lived away from home for so many years, and only saw mom about every second year. One of the last text messages i got from mom was -Where is America going? She referred to the election, and couldn’t understand how someone who has never been into politics can become a president, and how people could vote on someone like that. (She should see Sweden now, it would break her heart) The other text she sent was about snowplows, well Stockholm had just gotten a snowstorm and people were complaining about the lack of plowing. My mom said the there are so many unemployed people that probably could showel, but yet people are complaining about the lack of snowplows.


November 14th

The day started like most days, early in the morning we had coffee before getting ready to leave for work. I saw that my oldest brother had called me and thought that was weird. So I called back and got the news. Mom was in the hospital, they didn’t know much but she was in surgery. The next call I got sounded positive, he said she has lost a lot of blood but she’s fine. But she was not. In my mind I was thinking that my friend is working on moms blood, because she works at the hospital and somehow I had a feeling that my mom was not alone. I told W, my friend is probably working now, helping her I can feel it. Several thousands mile away one of my best friends got a blood order. She recognize the birth date, because my mom and another friend of us share the same birthday. It was a lot of blood my mom needed, too much to work. After her shift that day she walked by our house on her way home and thought about my mom.

Du ser andra halvan av solen när den sjunker i väst
Jag sitter ensam här och undrar var vi hamnar härnäst
Med dig på andra sidan jorden får jag tid till ingenting
Medan natten fäller blå kalla skuggor häromkring
Vi skulle klara vad som helst, vi skulle aldrig säga nej
Och vad du anförtror åt mig, ska jag anförtro åt dig

Det är en storm påväg inatt, rannsaka och bekänn
Guds son ska komma nerstigen från himmelen igen
Du ska stå naken framför sanningen och jordens alla kval

Han ska pröva din styrka, han ska testa din moral
Vi står tysta framför skälet, där sommaren tar slut
Som tonårsbarn på hemväg efter gårdagens debut
Nu skulle inget bli som förr, vi var i en annan division
Vi kunde höra höstens mörka vatten brusa under bron

Vi skulle klara vad som helst, vi skulle aldrig säga nej
Och vad du anförtror åt mig, ska jag anförtro åt dig

Och alldeles nyss fick jag lyssna till ditt skratt
Och det berättade, du saknade mig inatt, det gör jag med
Det är så tyst nerifrån gatan som det aldrig annars är
Det är som om natten här har sett allting och stilla sjunger med

En elegi för alla sorger den där hösten handla om
För en mor som sjukna in, för ett barn som aldrig kom
För skuggan över gårn där aldrig solen lyste in
För en ork som inte fanns, du sakna min, jag sakna din
För en tystnad mellan väggarna som skar genom cement

Två ögonpar i tomhet från september till advent
För en man som gick till jobbet som om inget hade hänt
För en kvinna som sa allting är förstört, allt är brännt

En elegi för alla vägar som vi inte vandrat än
För en tid som bara går och aldrig kommer igen
Vi skulle klara vad som helst, vi skulle aldrig säga nej
Och vad du anförtror åt mig, ska jag anförtro åt dig
— Lars Winnerbäck - Elegi
Posted on November 15, 2018 and filed under Stockholm, Sweden.