forest

Blue and green should not be seen?

An extract from The Dormouse and the Doctor, A.A. Milne:-

The Dormouse turned over to shut out the sight
Of the endless chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
“How lovely,” he thought, “to be back in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).”
 

 

 

 

Sometimes I feel just like the dormouse in A.A.Milne’s poem: trapped in a world of a colour not of my own choosing.  My problem is I don’t like trees, which is tricky living in this densely forested region of southern Sweden. I’m surrounded by great, grey, green conifers. I feel claustrophobic, landlocked and trapped.

And I long for the open vistas of the coast; the space and the balmy, blue, black sea.

So, when I’m feeling down, I just stop; shut my eyes tight and, like the dormouse; imagine myself Somewhere Else Instead. And I am so HAPPY.

 

 

 

Of Birch twigs and feathers

Birch twigs, feathers and eggs

Birch twigs, feathers and eggs

So, it’s Birch bashing time in Sweden!  Bundles of innocent-looking birch twigs, known in Swedish as Påskris, are now on sale in markets ready for the Easter ritual.

Not unsurprisingly, most if not all people nowadays refrain from what was once the tradition of  bashing one another on the legs with Birch twigs; an activity geared to cause pain and act as a reminder of Christ’s suffering on the cross. In fact,  the symbolic, religious significance seems over the centuries to have been completely lost in a bizarre haze of fluffy feathers.

Instead of flagellation, the Swedes now prefer to whack their birch twigs into a jug; which then takes pride of place amongst the Easter decorations.  The Birch, picked just as they have come into bud, are then decorated with garish, brightly coloured feathers.  Packs of these feathers are sold everywhere, and in every possible colour of the rainbow.   Initially only available in hues of egg (cream, white, orange and yellow), the feathers now tend to reflect the latest interior decorating trends; the fashionable among us this year opting, apparently, for a simple palette rather than a riot of colours.

Many Swedes, in fact, don’t stop there and feel the need to adorn their twigs with mini hollow, painted eggs, ribbons, tiny chicks, cockerels and other Easter-related paraphernalia.  Really it’s become a sort of Swedish version of a Christmas tree, but for Easter.

For those of us who live in the country, we have the added options of either:-

a) installing our feathered twigs outside so that the world and his wife can see them

or

b) decorating our bushes with feathers instead.

Somehow, I feel spoilt for choice.

 

Birch twigs, Påskris

Birch twigs, Påskris

Note to Selfie:  Birch trees here I come – it’s PYI (pick-your-own) time in the forest!

 

 

 

Right of way

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flag up Sweden! (FuS)

So, it’s time again for my weekly challenge. Once a week, I’m going to #Flag up Sweden (Fus). I’m trying to find something that I like about Sweden, or at least find something positive to say about someone, something, or well really anything remotely associated with this tree-ridden country.

And this week, it’s the year 1926. Or rather something that happened on that momentous day in history; a day that heralded 3 events of varying importance in the making of Sweden.

FIRSTLY, Ingvar Kamprad the founder of the flat-packed, plywood emporium (otherwise known as IKEA) was born.

SECONDLY, Volvo PLC was formed.

THIRDLY and most significantly, a baker in the wooded highlands of this region was inspired.

This unsung Swedish hero, Ingvar Strid, created Budapest. Something that, despite its name, has absolutely nothing to do with countries or invasions. Although it could well be that Ingvar’s ancestors were involved in some dispute or other as ‘Strid’ is the Swedish word for battle or combat.

No, this has all to do with a pastry. Quite where Ingvar Strid got his inspiration from I do not know. But, out of the gloom of the late 1920’s, there emerged a king among cakes.

And what I do know is, if you love hazelnut chocolate meringue wrapped around oodles of cream and mandarins you’ve now got at least ONE very good reason for visiting Sweden.

Budapest

Budapest

 

As if to recognise its huge historical value, Budapest was last year given its own day.  And May 1st is now, amongst other things, National Budapest Day.

A walk in the woods

“I met a man when I went walking, we got talking man and I.”

me: It’s not often you bump into someone in the middle of the forest.

man: Er huh.

me: The weather’s a lot milder today.

man: Er huh.

me: Well, must get on.  Have a nice day!

man: Er huh.

Note to selfie:   Never approach a stranger in the Swedish forest without being introduced first.