So I’m heading back to Sweden for the month of August! It wasn’t such a hard decision to make, but there came a point where I decided that it was time to do what I actually wanted to do, instead of cramming a few more cities into my itinerary. I think the temptation when travelling abroad, especially in Europe (where flights are cheap and it’s easy to get around)–is to hit up as many places as possible, staying at each destination for only 2-3 days, just managing to squeeze in the “best of” highlights (posing in front of the major tourist landmarks, etc etc) and perhaps a great meal or a night out at the clubs before jetting off again.
It’s understandable, & there are times where I want to travel like that. However, I came to this summer trip so tired from university–I just wanted to rest. Stockholm was the perfect place to do that–it’s a small city, so it’s never a hassle to get around, the weather was beautiful, everyone speaks English & is ultra-helpful, and most of all, I got to stay with my best friend–not a Couchsurfing host or some random Airbnb-er–but someone who knows & understands me.
It just got better from there–at Rosenhill Farm, I entered a totally different world, where time slows down & life is marked by a series of small, beautiful events– the discovery of a patch of wild strawberries, taking someone’s adorable dog for a walk, a quick swim at the lake. I just felt rested, tucked away from the worries of the rushing, swirling, stressful outside world. I woke up, breathed in fresh air, ate organic food straight from the fields I weeded, sat on the porch, drank coffee, sat beneath a sun that never set.
The typical WWOOFer good-bye tradition is to plan something a bit special (everything already is a bit special when you’re living on the picture perfect Swedish farm, isn’t it?) for their last night. Since two out of three American WWOOFers were leaving, we decided that it was time to acquaint Rosenhill with the time-honored American tradition of ‘breakfast for dinner’. We made blueberry pancakes with wild blueberries Aisling & I picked in the morning. It was the perfect last morning—a busy day at the café, but a slow day at Rosenhill over-all, which meant frantic shifts of dish-washing where you can’t even remember your own name & long, lazy stretches in between, where you can ramble around the swathes of gorgeous Swedish forest around the farm with the café dog, gorging yourself on wild strawberries & blueberries along the way.
I thought that I’d want to do something high-energy and fun for my last night at Rosenhill, but I ended up going to bed early and simply curling up in bed & crying! I felt so protected at Rosenhill, and discovered a side of myself that I didn’t know existed or could exist–because I’d never tried to pry myself away from my beloved cafes, my hallowed ideal of city life. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t live away from a city without being bored out of my mind–but I sat up in my bus-turned-living-quarters that night and cried because I was returning to “the real world”–a world of cafes & restaurants & nightclubs, yes, but also back to airplanes & missed flight connections & confusing bus routes & restaurant reservations & people who didn’t stop to smile at you whenever they passed. This was absolutely confirmed when the first thing I did upon leaving Rosenhill was totally miss my bus connection to the airport, which caused a frantic 3 hours of finding an expensive, alternate route via train & bus, half-sobbing & panicked the entire way.
While waiting for the bus that would take me away from Rosenhill back to Stockholm that morning, I was accompanied at the bus stop by an elegant old lady, who told me in very firm French that she was 78 years old. As we sat there, an unlikely duo (Asian girl with huge backpack and a baseball cap; old woman holding a bag of flowers)—she began a rapid fire of French & Swedish that continued for an entire 10 minutes, apparently undeterred by my relative lack of understanding (thankfully, I remember something of my middle-school French). The only moment she paused was when she told me that her husband died, this past October. “I’m sorry, I’m really sorry for your loss,” I said. She looked at me, and then sighed deeply—“Ah, c’est la vie”. In some turn of strange misguided attempt at empathy, told her in turn that I was almost sure that I was going to miss my bus in Stockholm, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. “Ah, c’est la vie”–she responded again. That’s life.
And perhaps that’s what life is, most of the time (at least, a city-dweller’s life)–missed bus connections & unsmiling people & confusing bus routes–but in these stressful moments, just knowing a place like Rosenhill exists somehow makes it all the more bearable. And what’s more–knowing that fact that I can always go back.
So I am, this August. Why wait? Life will be stressful enough back at home in Taipei, with its crowds on the streets, the pressure of university. I’m flying back to Sweden to spend time in the beautiful archipelago (one of the most magical places in the entire world) & returning to Rosenhill for at least another 10 days.
& a few more pictures of Rosenhill, just some simple evidence regarding why I’m tempted to move there & never leave…
Digging into an abandoned wedding-cake from a wedding that took place the night before
The view down from the veranda
Swimming at our lake (the water’s ice cold, but the Swedes–and okay, pretty much anyone else but me–don’t seem to mind)
Our beloved bus home! This place was an absolute wreck (as in, condom packets in the fridge & nasty underwear tucked into pillowcases) before we got to rollin’ up our sleeves and scrubbing off the mold, giving it fresh coat of paint, and generally making it fit for habitation again! Bus sweet bus!
Flower crowns & wine for a neighborly gathering potluck
Warm summer night dinners in the greenhouse
Fires & sing-alongs behind the bus (people also live in the little caravans!)