So, I was out on a walk in the woods this morning when I found myself unexpectedly confronted with a bit of a thorny dilemma:: should I, or shouldn’t I?
I’d taken my usual route: downhill towards the lake, then I’d turned off by the edge of the water before lunging back uphill, though this time through the forest. The intention being to continue to where the forest track reached the road, where I could then veer off and loop back home.
And that’s just where I came unstuck. In order to get to the road, I had to go through a small property. It was once upon a time a farm, but is now only rarely used by the owners as a summer retreat. Every morning, I follow the dirt track as it skirts the side of the house and every morning I peer through the windows; as the light often catches on the ancient tiled wooden stoves.
This morning was different. As I left the shelter of the forest and approached the house, I could clearly see a plume of smoke coming out of the chimney. It was cold and the smoke was being sucked up by the frosty air. The sight of this smoke, however, completely unnerved me, and I was thrown into some sort of instantaneous fluster-mode.
Should I just stroll on as per normal? And if I did, what were the chances of the owners just happening to open their door at the exact, precise moment I was passing by? Admittedly this was pretty unlikely at 7 in the morning, but you never know with the outdoorsy Swedes.
Or shouldn’t I? Wouldn’t it just be safer wimping out, turning around and taking the long route home?
What added confusion to my indecision is that, thanks to a traditional right, almost nowhere in Sweden is off-limits. The Right of Public Access, or Allemansrätt, allows you to roam freely throughout the Swedish countryside, even on private land – just such as this. So, basically you’re pretty much free to walk, cycle, horse-ride, ski or jog almost everywhere so long as you don’t disturb the landowner or cause damage.
Obviously, I wasn’t intent on destruction. I was just keen to get home and have some breakfast. But, would I be disturbing them? I couldn’t help feel that, as the track ran so close to the house (I could have reached out and tapped on the windows), I was treading a fine moral line.
After a few moments of reflection; weighing up the situation and putting everything into perspective, I made my move. I did just what any typically apologetic British girl would do.
I turned tail, ran back down the dirt track hoping and praying no one had seen me, and disappeared into the forest; and took the LONG way home.
That was the right way, wasn’t it?