For the very first time since 2004 I am a few days away from the Netherlands. It‘s Tuesday, the 3rd of July at 10:30 am when I take the picture below, from the car that brings us from Örsundsbro, in the municipality of Enköping, to Stockholm for a farewell lunch. That morning, just like every other day, we swam before breakfast in the Örsundaån, the small river with the bridge that dates from the year 1050. Average water temperature: 18 degrees.
It is remarkable how many memories such a trip evokes.
As soon as you leave a city in Sweden, you are in a primal landscape. You move down the roads that run through hills and connect islands. Occasionally a large farm, where generations of horses have been bred or crops have grown. Everything is made of wood here. The houses, the shops, the public space. Painted in traditional colors. Here time stands still, even if it apparently goes forward.
It reminds me of the journey I once made in America and Canada in 1978. There I traveled with Canadian college friends through the Northwestern mountains, staying in wooden houses on the edge of a lake or camping in the wilderness. Brown bears lived nearby. We stayed in an Indian reservation and made new friends there. We learned how to chop wood and fishing with a spear, standing on a rock in the midst of the stream.
Once again that rural atmosphere, the silence of nature. Only the sound of birds, animals, the wind. All ‘urban frills’ fall away. You become one with a form of life that is as old as humanity. The rhythms of the day and the seasons. The weather. Natural laws that make clear what your place is in the whole. Grim.
Another image that Sweden brings up is going back lineages in time. The Czech side of my paternal roots and Italian on my mother’s. Through the genealogical research that I did I recognize the landscape, the houses and the people that my great-grand Parents descend from. There, in Southern Bohemia, life is also all about wood. So there is a great respect for the source of all this: the Forest.
On the advice of my hospitable friend from Örsundsbro, who emigrated to Sweden because of his love, I read the book ‘Norwegian wood’ by Lars Mytting. It explains very precisely what role nature plays in our lives and with great sense of humor. As a city man, you do not notice that much of the meaning of that. But once you live outside the city, it is a matter of survival. Just imagine that you’ll be snowed in, in your beautiful wooden house in the middle of the winter and can’t go anywhere. If you have not taken care of a good wood stock that keeps the stove burning you might freeze to death, just like that.
Why is the above illustrative as ‘My Moment’ of this year?
Life is essentially very simple. It is up to us, to make our everyday practice easy or difficult, and above all … to obey our true nature.