It’s a beautiful summer Sunday and we are off to Hälsingland to meet my grandfather and his cousin on her birthday.
We call Karin from a gas-station, a good hour before arrival. She has just finished tidying up after her breakfast guests and sounds eager to hang up to make sure to have a birthday cake ready for us when we arrive.
A promise is a promise.
When we arrive, Karin’s garden is in full bloom and so is she. We all hug her and sing for her. Then we give her a helping hand with the basket laden with china, coffee, tea and of course, cake.
Just to please us, Karin serves us an exquisite hors d’oeuvre – Helsingland cheese cake; a sweet that dates back to the 17th century. What place could be better to savour it than a piece of land that has belonged to the same family more or less since the 1600?
The cake is chewy, hot from the oven and topped with cold, home-made rasberry topping. We are all in a bliss.
Everything looks so picturesque and naturally beautiful. The red-coloured wooden house. The blossoming white rose bush that arches around the porch. The fluffy cream in between two layers of cake crust. The green pastures where sheep play peek-a-boo with the shade.
Like the 470 liters of red paint Karin cooked herself on a stove in the yard. The daily feeding of the animals and the regular trimming of the lawn. Washing endless amounts of bed-linen, making beds and serving succulent breakfasts to her bed and breakfast guest.
Most imporantly, the hours and hours spent on preserving and transmitting the story of the family, of the village and region with genuine devotion.
Everytime I visit, there is something new to discover from the treasure-trove of history. Discussions around breakfast and dinner always give food for thought.
I believe that every family has an interesting story, but not every family has its story-teller.
Our family is lucky to have one.
Her job may not be a piece of cake, but Karin is a true conveyor of the living past. Not of the past as in fragmented exhibits in a museum, but of the instrumental kind that talks to you because it is a part of your present and future.
Her commitment is a gift to all of us.