This blog, like the world we live in, is continually evolving. I will sometimes write in Swedish, sometimes in English, commenting on things in my life that interest me – and I hope you.
You may have noticed that I publish a lot of pictures from my country home. In this blog I try to explain why this place is so important to me.
The countryside holds a special place in the collective Swedish heart. It’s where Swedes reconnect with their roots.
Traditional red wooden houses that evoke poignant memories, winding country lanes shadowed by trees, shimmering lakes that invite you to jump in, dark, mossy forests brimming with the bounties of nature – Sweden’s countryside is a place of calm, an idyll that allows us to regroup and remember where we began. It’s a place where we find both tranquility and strength.
Until not that long ago the majority of Swedes lived in the countryside and farmed the land. When the flight to the city began many of us kept our little red cottages, and it’s where we’ve always gone to relive childhood memories and make new ones – and to keep in touch with our roots, particularly during summertime.
The Swedish winter is long, cold, and dark and we adore summer – especially Midsummer, which is our real national holiday. We gather friends and family at big homes and small cottages, always close to water, where we eat mass amounts of sill and drink snaps while singing the songs of beloved Swedish troubadour Evert Taube and dancing around the maypole. Taube, along with Astrid Lindgren, reinforced our idyllic summer lifestyle, close to water, trees, and flowers.
For me, having a country stuga allows me the chance to distress and relax. Even during the most hectic periods of my career it was necessary to have this space. Weekdays have always been filled with so many people that I need and want to be alone with just my husband and the birds. It’s where I have no demands and find a sense of calm, even if I have to work or prepare for the coming weeks.
I’m fortunate that my country home has been in the family for centuries – not the house itself, but the land. I was born in India and came to Sweden at the age of 8.
Since then I have spent every summer in the little cottage close to the water, and during the last 20 years in our own house just beside.
When I close my eyes and look back I can still see my grandparents swimming in the inlet to the sea while my parents read and gardened. It’s where I learned to ride a bicycle and to swim. The stone where I sat and dreamed and envisioned my life is still there. Being able to return here gives me a strong sense of continuity and a sense of belonging. I still just sit and watch the world lazily roll by, taking pictures and working in the garden while my husband tends to the land.
This space, this place in the countryside where I can just be quiet within myself, is something I think everyone needs. We live in challenging times and while not everyone has access to a country home or regular visits to the country it’s important to find a ‘room’ where you can take a break away from your everyday life. You can find that anywhere: visit a library for a few hours or take a long pause in a nearby park. Traditions, family, and childhood memories are important but I believe it’s nature that is key to finding that place to regroup, to look inside yourself, even if briefly. In doing so you will find your strength, even during the most difficult times – and in finding that strength you will be able to meet the demands life places on you, with a calm you didn’t know you possessed.