A Spring Spent in Sweden

Features, Uncategorized February 29, 2016

“Nothing, Everything, Anything, Something: If you have nothing, then you have everything, because you have the freedom to do anything, without the fear of losing something.” ― Jarod Kintz

It is a long time ago now and it feels as if it was. I was a different person back then, a different version of me living in a different world. But I remember those three weeks of getting lost on Swedish roads well. Mum and I had decided it was time for a different kind of holiday, and instead of the warm coast of the south we took to the cold roads of the North. We didn’t have a plan, we didn’t have a list of things we wanted to see or do. All we knew was that we’d drive north and turn back down once time would make us.

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The freedom felt great and we gave in to it entirely. We slept when we felt like it was the right time and place, sometimes that’d be on parking lots and sometimes that’d be in nice and warm cabins. We would watch the sun touch the horizon before it would rise again and woke up when our bodies told us to. I remember every single one of those nights, but two stand out.

The first was during a beaver-spotting trip we’d stumbled upon by accident. It was off season but there was one man crazy enough to take us. “There is a big chance we won’t see a single beaver” he warned us. And he was right, we didn’t see any, but it didn’t matter.
He drove us to the river and led us over soft pine needle covered tracks to an old wooden dock. We climbed into the one canoe in sight and descended on the river. In complete silence we turned into many side streams as a weak sun shone on our faces. Forests and fields were at the left and right of us, signs of beavers everywhere. Dams, affected trees and tracks up riverbeds.

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At dinner time we arrived at a big flat riverbed, home for tonight. We warmed up around the fire above which we cooked our food and boiled tea and for hours we spoke about his life and ours. He showed us homemade wooden objects and told us about the smart heating systems he had come up with for his off the grid home. I was so excited about it that he promised he would take us there after our trip.
At the end of the night he led us to our beds. Reindeer skins on straw on the floor of a big tipi. In the middle we build a fire and through an airing hole in the roof we watched the stars until our eyelids got too heavy and we slept.

The second was high up in the mountains. For as long as I can remember wolves have spared my imagination and we figured it was time to see some wild ones. We had trailed their footsteps all day and seen some far off in the distance, tonight our guide would leave us here with a pair of binoculars and mosquito head-nets. (We hiked up a hill until we reached a …. coloured tent on the top of a mountain.) Our beds for the night were on the top of a mountain and overlooked a valley full of pine trees and open fields, perfect for wolves spotting. And because of the shape of the valley it was also a perfect spot for hearing the wildlife that roamed the area.
Again it was off season, and we didn’t see or hear any wolves, but the view was one in a million and excitement flowed through our veins all night long as foxes attacked our tent walls and other night animals had their daily nocturnal conversations. Early in the morning we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes sitting on the cold frosty grass outside. Winds made the lands around us dance as the morning sun magically illuminated everything.
For a moment we had escaped the 21st century and the human world. It was only us and the wind of the wild that touched all our senses an fed the flame of wanderlust inside of our hearts.

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After these three weeks we arrived home with a perfect reindeer skin and peaceful minds. Our home city felt foreign to us now and we tried to hold on to that feeling for as long as we could. Every now and then I stroke that skin and sent my mind on a trip to the past, to the lands where groups of peaceful reindeer hold up traffic, where thousands of lakes are eternally covered in morning fog, where bears are an actual threat and wooden compost toilets are a part of daily life, where abandoned cabins are allowed to be touched by time, where we spent cold nights in cars, went on riverside hikes, walked through abandoned national parks and drank fresh pine needle tea in dark pine forests.

Words by Isabella Prins
Photography by Rachel Duffy

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