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Monthly Archives: August 2013

This is not a green apple

apple

This is not a sunset over the Libyan sea

SunsetThis is not a sleeping beautyimg_1496 This is not a cactus-fig

Cactus figs These are not the most turquoise waters you have ever seen

img_1514This is not a retreat

yogaoncreteThis is Yoga on Crete.

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In the pause between the main course and coffee there is space for much to be said. When hunger is satisfied, attention can move to finer things than a gurgling stomach.  This span of relaxation, when senses are laid-back, is the optimal time for stories to unravel.

When far-away family recently came over to meet their relatives in the Swedish motherland, stories flourished as faraway cousins from the two sides of the Atlantic got together around a long meal.

One side remembered the jars of quaint jello sent over by the American aunts, and the more interesting newspaper wrapping. A now seventy-year-old family member recollected how,  when visiting the relatives in America as a young man, he was asked to fetch some watermelon from the fridge and ended up staring into the guts of the cooler not knowing what he was supposed to look for.

reunitedThe American side shared the experience of growing up in a Scandinavian community on the new continent and recalled festive occasions on which the culinary abomination of lutefisk had to be endured out of respect for the older generation’s sentiment.

ostkakaFragments of a memory puzzle collectively put together over a table laden with smoked fish and meat, salads, ornate homemade bread, Swedish cheese-cake, cake roll, whipped cream and forest fruit.

My favourite story of all, was  that of a great-grandmother, the eldest daughter of a couple of hard-working and up-coming farmers. As a young woman she got hired as a maid at a nearby estate.  At  some point, she returned to her family home and revealed to her mother that she was pregnant. Her mother did not even let her take her coat off. Instead, she hurriedly grabbed her by the hand and walked with her back to the estate to speak to the landowner.

When they arrived  he was not in, so they were asked to please sit down and wait. The mother retorted that their errand was not of the “sitting” kind. She  declared that  they knew who the father of the child was and that they did not wish to know of him.  Having said, she took her daughter back home.  Mission accomplished.

I find this story beautiful because it shows how massively important the support and acceptance of parents are. It is also beautiful because my great-grandmother got restitution by probably the most important person to her.  Knowing that  my great-grandmother later got married, had several children, toiled  and  died a precocious death in tuberculosis together with two young daughters, makes this story even more worth telling.

That is the true value of a good story. Even if it springs from the past and often tells about  harsh times, it can give away beams of hope and comfort for the future..

Dinner-time around my grandmother’s table on our summer-breaks in southern Sweden. The turning point of the day, signaling the transition to the evening calm.

Two little girls who had been biking around the neighbourhood in opposite directions, sometimes not being able to avoid frontal collision: life can indeed serve you the very thing you’re trying to avoid right up in the face.

Or maybe we would have spent the day at the nearby beach, or in one of the  lush parks of the area with rolled-out blankets, badminton rackets and warm O’ boy waiting in a thermos. On the less sunny days, stocking up with books from  the public library or handicrafting inside.

Wether dining inside or out on the terrace, the table would be beautifully set by my stylish grandmother. She’d never put a pot or a pan on the table; instead she’d nicely arrange everything on serving plates.  I am not exaggerating when saying that everything that has ever come out of my grandmother’s kitchen has tasted delicious.

newtonianappleSometimes, I would be assigned the fun task of fetching some fresh potatoes or beans from the garden. To this day I can recall the feeling of wiggly and warm tiles under my feet and the tender smell of the earth.

grandmotherstyleMany years later, I pick up an apple that has fallen from a garden tree. It is just about ripe. Miniscule but beautifully red. When I cook dinner, I make it a  tribute to her – Irma la douce.

Her signature salad of grated carrots and apple. Oven-baked fish in fresh cream, summer potatoes, a simple salad made on lettuce, tomatoes and sliced green olives.

Taste-buds exposed to  familiar harmony.

pommecarotteIn these beautiful summer days and evenings, I miss that sweet, understated yet strong-willed woman.

Her sense of flair, her tender care and effort to transform  the mundane into something interesting and exciting together with her aversion to waste underpin my way of relating to everyday life. For that  I thank her.

This is indisputably the time for living life outside.

I am the morning stroller, the morning jogger, the lunch-time serial picnicker, the fanatic dinner-on-the-balcony eater and  I am not alone. Light makes everything pulsate with life, in a spell of pure biological magic.

This need and compulsion for being outside, the exercising and the sweating, the relaxing on lawns and terraces, the indulging in seasonal delicacies are all parts of a survival strategy engraved in the genes.

When mother nature unleashes her megatons of solar energy, it is impossible to bridle the Nordic people. Vitamin D and pockets full of sunshine…  It is no wonder that the burka was not invented in this part of the world.

hågaånThe image of my grandmother leaning back on a garden-chair,  glasses removed, eyes shut and face in a slight upwards tilt, pops up as the embodiment of the effort to capture a perfect fragment of time and keep it close to the heart for all eternity.

When exploring a nearby forest comes up, we do not hesitate –  it is now or never; this fleetingly precious season leaves no room for procrastination,.

blueberriesOur strategy of befriending time pays off. Our fingers bare the proof of  an unexpected harvest of forest-fruit and our feet become  the understated heroes of the day.

harvestWe spend several hours outside, surrounded by exploding nature. Stopping and scanning the forest for some blueberries. Listening to the woodpecker knocking on invisible doors. Realising we have taken a wrong path.

Sprinkled by innocuous rain-drops. Grateful for the morning providence neatly  packed into tight transparent containers.

lunch

fieldthepath

Time stretched out. Kilometres and minutes blurred  together.

As if in a dream, we are transported back to square one. Tree tops are green, dinner is warm, the evening  light is rusty and mellow.

palakdaalNow is complete and safe from harm.

sofiawise

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

The Chick on a Pea

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Buttercupgoeswest

Buttercup is a newborn and we are taking her on a 5000 KM journey from Ahmedabad to Kanyakumari

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts