That sounds very fanciful but if, like me, you are a person with lots of imagination, a Scandinavian pine forest is going to have a strange affect on you – trust me on this! During the warmer parts of the year it smells divine – of pine resin, mushrooms and flowers – and the sunlight is always slightly dimmed as it’s filtered down through the canopy of the trees. This gives it a feeling of unreality, of being in a different realm. There are creatures scurrying around, making rustling noises so you know they’re there even though you hardly ever see them. It’s easy to fantasise about who those creatures might be. And suddenly the existence of trolls and fairies doesn’t seem quite as impossible as it did before. Turn your head really quickly and you just might catch sight of one!
In winter, it’s just as mysterious, but brighter and eerily quiet. The birds don’t sing, the animals are mostly hibernating and everything is covered in a thick blanket of snow. The world is asleep or maybe just waiting for something special to happen ... Either way, it’s definitely magical.
Last week, I was back in Sweden to help celebrate my little brother’s very special birthday (I won’t say which one because he refused to acknowledge the number himself, but Happy Birthday, Paul!). And apart from eating too much birthday cake and other local gastronomic delights, I took the opportunity to go for long walks in the forest because I’ve really missed it and whenever I’m not in Sweden, it calls to me.
In a way, it’s ironic. When I lived there, I hated being dragged out on weekends and made to DO STUFF, like pick berries or mushrooms, walk nature trails or cross country skiing. Always the couch potato, all I wanted was to be left at home with a good book. Who needed nature? That was for grown-ups and boring people. But my parents insisted and I’m grateful for that now - I can finally see the point.
So where am I going with this? I’m not sure. I’m probably just doing what Julie gave us permission to do occasionally – writing rubbish. But I’m sure we all have places from our childhoods that call to us, places that feel magical in some way and where we are at home. This is mine.