My whole world

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No matter how small the creature, it’s always at the centre of its own world.

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Hubby and I sometimes talk about this in relation to spiders and flies: how they must view the world so differently from us – not only because they have more eyes, but because they hang upside down from tent ceilings and windows. Wonder how this garden looks from their perspective, we say. Do they even have a concept of it, or do they just see their immediate surroundings and ignore the rest? Is the ant’s world comprised of the blade of grass directly in front of it – an obstacle to overcome – or do they think about the ant hill and dream of reaching it faster than yesterday?

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Every single organism is at the nave of its own universe. It’s the receptacle for sun and rain, for wind and weather. Everything that happens to it happens in relation to their unique self.

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Even in a field of endless waving grain, every seed is an individual.

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But what about fungi? Their self resides under ground, and the bodies we see poking up through the forest floor are only satellites revealing a larger presence beneath the surface.

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And we humans – can we see beyond our immediate surroundings? Can we grasp the concept of the garden even though we can only see the blade of grass that blocks our way?

Are we individuals, or a seemingly unique expression of something else – something constant, something whole?

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King of all I survey

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I’ve heard that an important Swedish trait is our love of nature, which makes me go “Huh? Doesn’t everyone in the world love nature?” so I guess in my case it’s true. 😀 But apparently some people are put off by the prospect of miles and miles of forest where they won’t meet a soul. To me it sounds like paradise.

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Or even better than a forest: a mountain. There’s nothing like standing on the top of a hill and looking down at things that usually seem important blur into insignificance.

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Maybe that’s why the elk is so emblematic of Sweden. It’s a solitary animal that goes where it wants in the woods – it has its paths and doesn’t care about the roads we’ve built – and it looks so majestic where it glides along beneath the towering pines and firs. There’s even an expression in Swedish – älga iväg (‘elk away’) – which means walk with long big strides.

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So like the elk I like to roam free and feel like I own the world. 😀 And nowhere do I feel it more than in unpopulated areas. Nothing calms my soul like listening to the special kind of silence that speaks of distance: you may hear the odd car on a highway far away, but the very fact that the sound travels such a long way tells you how alone you are – how utterly peaceful. No chatter, no demands, no social mores or rituals to honour. Just you and the water and the air and the sun.

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On a related note, I also love ruins and abandoned buildings. All the heartache and intrigue that once happened there is history, and all the people who struggled are long dead. You can own the place, because no one owns it anymore.

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You can imagine the echoes, but they don’t touch you. Only the atmosphere of the place, the final outbreath when the battle is over.

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It’s both lovely and awful how nature takes over as soon as humans stop fighting for a place in it. Lovely because it gives me hope for the planet after we’re gone, and awful because it really takes all we have to stop both ourselves and our houses from falling into decay.

And at the same time it’s so funny how we tend to want to fight. We could easily let beautiful weeds overgrow our gardens, but we insist on ripping them out and planting things that don’t really want to be there, that crave a subtle balance of sun and damp and shade that has us toiling in our free time just to cater to them!

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It’s as if the fact that we have to work for something makes it more valuable – and maybe that’s true to a point. But if we’re plagued by stress and demands, and gardening isn’t a hobby or a way for us to wind down, maybe we should lower our standards and be okay with a little wilderness.

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Finally, I can willingly trade a cluttered beach on the Riviera for the peaceful solitude of a tiny strip of sand by a northern Swedish lake.

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And yeah, alright – I might be persuaded to share it with a tiny little frog. 🙂

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Midsummer at the cabin

The first thing to greet us as we approached our middle-of-the-forest paradise was a startled reindeer that obligingly ran alongside the car so I could document it.

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The second welcome came from the wealth of buttercups that dotted the entire lawn.

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The first day was lovely and bright, the kind of day when the sky is white and endless.

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On my walk, I was accompanied by a fearless butterfly that fluttered along in front of me and landed to let me snap dozens of closeups. Look how the light filters through those gossamer wings.

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And look at its tiny, furry face! How often do we pay attention to the faces of butterflies? We’re too seduced by their colourful wings.

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In this one it looks like it’s stumbling home after a night on the town!

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The lingonberry bushes were flowering.

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Back at the cabin, we made a miniature maypole in the garden.

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Dinner was served on the fire. 🙂

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The buttercups glowed in the light of a torch.

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And afterwards I went up to where the forest used to be and watched the clouds blush at the setting sun.

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And somewhere here, among the fallen trees and under the dramatic sky, I lost my battery charger, so the rest of the weekend went undocumented. Maybe it was for the best. It rained the entire time and I needed some rest – the kind of rest I call non-days, that is days when time passes from your first coffeecup to your final glass of wine without even touching you; when you somnambulate through the afternoon like a ghost through the grey gauze separating us from eternity; when there’s just a big Nothing where you usually live your life.

Sometimes I resent these days, because I like to pretend that I can live two lives at once, at the speed of light. But after a period of high activity, I always find myself in these empty slumps, as if they’re the price I must pay for living too much, for hoarding time and experiences. It’s a balance sheet, and I never get away with too much greed – or too much work. I guess it’s my body’s way of making sure I don’t exceed my ‘income’.

And today I took the bus into town to buy a new charger. It’s as symbolic as it gets. 🙂

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Small and unassuming

This post and the links in it contain advertisements for my book.

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I turn to see Henrik smiling at something on the ground. I walk over and peer down at the carpet of tiny white petals. “Ah, the arctic starflower.”

“Chickweed wintergreen,” he playfully corrects me.

“I prefer the arctic starflower. It sounds so….” I gesture vaguely. “Mysterious,” I settle for, but it sounds so ridiculous that I blush. It makes Henrik laugh, but it’s not a mean laugh. It sounds knowing. As if, once again, we share something.

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be seen in twilight, isn’t it?” he says.

I squirm. “Perhaps. It’s just… it’s such a small and unassuming flower. You can walk right past it and not even notice.”

Henrik raises an eyebrow that looks disconcertingly flirty. “Is that a metaphor?”

I give him a look. “You think I’m small and unassuming?”

His gaze flickers down to my belt and then back up. “Well, you do kind of apologize for existing.”

(The Seventh Flower by Ingela Bohm)

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Christer isSeventhFlower[The]FS_v1 too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore, he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

Available at Dreamspinner and Amazon

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Goodbyes

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This weekend at the cabin became a little different. A new couple has bought the house next door, and the previous owner harvested all the trees that he owned in the surrounding forests. We came there just in time to see it happen.

Some trees are always left so that they can drop new seeds and secure the rebirth of the forest. They were marked with these red ribbons of salvation.

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It reminded me of the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, which I kept singing all through the weekend. “Do you still want me?” Yes, these happy few were still wanted alive.

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As an aside, down by the stream a different kind of forester had made short work of the best birches. If all goes well, I’ll have a post about beavers sometime during the summer. I just need to muster the patience to sit there with my camera and wait…

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Paradoxically, everything seemed to be fading and dying, wilting and withering. Maybe to make way for the new.

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A sunshiny day

And finally we got a glimpse of what May should be – on a Saturday, no less, and on the weekend when we decided to pay a visit to the cabin. Couldn’t have asked for more.

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We moved a bit of stuff from the house that hubby’s mum is selling to the barn by the cabin, not only because there’s room for it there, but because we’re planning something big for that place.

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Right now the interior looks like this:

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But a space like that can be made into something cosy, and a kind of museum where you can also sit on warm days and eat. So in the future, when all our other million projects are done, we’re going to clean it up and put olden thinges on the walls!

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I really long to do these kind of really physical, concrete projects. I guess five years of living exclusively in my head does that. It’s so nice to see things take form in the real world as opposed to just a text.

And that’s probably why I still so enjoy snapping pictures of natural beauty as well – of which there was an abundance this weekend. First out, the forest floor. New grass struggling out of the old, and moss, moss, moss.

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The sun cast a whitish glow on the pale yellow grass from last year.

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Later it turned into gold and copper.

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Merging into coral and purple as it dipped below the horizon.

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Sunset 4

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Wow.

Looking closer

Well, that’s nothing new of course, but you know… I have to think of titles. Bit hard when it’s all backlit closeups. But hey, you can’t get too many of ’em, so.

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Look at those fine, fine hairs!

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A devoured pine cone from yesteryear.

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Me in the centre of things.

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Moss is the perfect cushion.

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Just a typical view on my walks.

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Yours truly.

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Something old, something new

From a distance the world is grey and brown right now, but move closer and a shiny spectacle takes centre stage.

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Because most of nature is still dead at this time of year, it’s better to see individuals than a crowd. Like this withered lingonberry that no one picked last autumn. With the sun filtering through it, the leathery skin glows as if alive again.

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Or these perfect catkins.

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These delicate stems form a tiny forest against the background of an actual forest of pine trees and firs.

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Sometimes it feels like cheating to take these close-ups, because everything becomes so much more beautiful. This isn’t what we normally see when we take a walk in the woods, after all.

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But maybe we should. Maybe we don’t need a camera to get down on our knees and view the world through the shining prism of a melting ice crystal, hanging like a chandelier from last year’s grass.

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On the other hand, a simple dried leaf that dangles from a twig in the sun can be quite as lovely, and we don’t even have to make an effort to see it.

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It’s all about perspective. About where the light comes from.

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So the moral is, I suppose, not to see ‘the bright side of life’ exactly, but to put yourself in the right position in relation to the light.

March sun

There’s something so perfect about snow. It’s so fragile and so pure. So easy to ruin, either by heat or by footprints.

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In a world of white glitter, the sunshine is blinding. A faint smell of snow mobile petrol hovers over the landscape, and now and again you can hear a motor in the distance.

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Clinging to twigs, the tiny balls of snow look like osier buds.

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It’s the perfect day for an outing.

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Birches everywhere shining with half-melted crystals.

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Sun filters through the smoke as you grill your sausages on an open fire… 🙂

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