This is hard to put into words but at the same time it feels very important. Seasons come and seasons go, I love the rhythm that the change of season brings.
In Sweden the seasons are strong; not like in the UK where there isn't a so clear transition and everything merges into one.
My childhood summers were defined by our trip to Sweden to my mormors stuga in an area called Långvind on the Hälsingland coast. I would often stay when the rest of the family went home to the UK. Summers meant freedom to sit and be, taking myself out in the midnight sun to the sea and read or just sit engrossed in my own thoughts. This is what I pined for when I didn't live here in Njutånger, just 20 minutes from my childhood paradise.
Winters were defined by mine and my mums February trip to mormors in Umeå - an hours flight north of Stockholm; the light and the long periods of darkness that for me just felt so natural - it's winter so of course this is the environment and rhythm that my soul excepted - longed for.
After I left home at 18 there were periods where I wouldn't have time for trips to Sweden and although I longed to be there living and working with horses took over. I tried my best to enjoy all seasons and in the winter would often walk on the moors in dark windy weather just to try to feel like I was lost in a place no one had ever been but of course the moors where I was based were anything far from wild - it would only be that I was max 5 minutes away from civilization, instead I dreamt of travelling north; of setting myself a challenge; racing to the north pole; spending a year self-sufficient in Alaska - after reading Guy Grieves book "Call of the Wild" - everything felt possible.
Many years passed living in the UK, Europe and at one point Georgia USA, but one thing that did not change was the need to move to Sweden that just became stronger with each year that passed.
I longed for a summer defined by clear waters, blueberries and lingon, an autumn defined by the forest and mushrooms, the winter darkness brought to life by the ice and snow, the spring defined by the return to green, purple and yellow in the wild flowers.
And this is what I finally got in 2018 - my soul felt finally at home in its surroundings, the rhythm of the sun - forest - water; my soul fell silent, content.
I don't know if anyone has seen the film "Chocolat" the story of a mother who feels compelled that when the wind changes direction and blows north then she knows it's time to move on. This notion of following the rhythm of the wind facinated me and still does. I dreamt that that was my calling, to follow a defined path set by nature.
I had a few summers here where everything fell into place - swimming in the clear waters of the sea or lake near my house gave the greatest feeling. Being so close to the sea that I could walk down in my swimming gear on ready to go and after walk back up the hill feeling refreshed, my mind clear. I would take a morning dip and an evening dip. I would hang out down by the harbour and let my girls swim, play and enjoy themselves. I would often join them in the water; laughing with them; coming home at 9 pm in the eveing but with happy contented children and soul.
When we got the chance then we'd go to Långvind (where my mother still has her summer house/stuga). The first year of covid-19 my parents weren't able to travel over from the UK, Bens workplace had closed for the spring/summer season and we moved out to Långvind. Midnight walks and swims came back and the summer felt good - really good!
Now here is what I have been working up to - this summer, summer 2023.
The summer where everything changed.
This is the first summer where I can not swim in those clear waters; I can't marvel of seeing my hands and arms under the surface bedazzled as the light would bounce off the water.
This is the first summer where I have actively avoided going to the beach and harbour with the girls, with Ben - with anyone as all I want to do is jump up and race into the water with them - I felt guilty for not simply enjoy watching others have fun. When Ben was working I wouldn't take the girls for a swim on my own as I knew that if they needed help in the water I wouldn't be able to provide it.
I have only spent 2 nights in Långvind this summer. The beaches there I can't even get close to in my wheelchair, the shop where I would buy ice creams and sweets or pick up some milk for my mormor is inaccessible with stairs at the entrance and no ramp, the stones on the car park have been renewed this season and are now so thick that I had to shout for Hattie (my 9 year old daughter) to help push me when I got stuck, the play ground has the thickest layer of bark I think I have ever seen, so I can't even play with my girls with Hattie having to be my substitute and push her 4 year old sister on the swings.
Långvind, quite simply is no longer what it was for me, I've lost that part of me, it's gone, it's over.
This summer has been hard and I think I can say that I no longer like summers. How can I follow the rhythm of nature when I can't experience it the way I want to?
Yes I have to adapt
Yes only I can find new joys
Yes only I can let situations get me down
But thats all very well but does that mean that I can't grieve, that I can't long for what was?
The trip to Arles in July came at the right time, meeting Sophie came at the right time. Full of energy and hope I travelled to Arles. I am no town person but the rhythm there is something else, the breakfasts drinking coffee in the main square watching it come alive in front of me, meeting Sophie who's own rhythm and soul is so so special. The antique bookshops, the Roman architecture - suddenly I felt hopeful that the summers would still bring me joy - in a very different way than I expected - it was perfect timing.
(I do regret I didn't seem to get any pictures of me & Sophie together! I apologise as I was obviously living in the moment - anyhow another reason to go back)
I still grieve for what summers were AND have a small hope of what summers will be
(and I finally am able to say that autumn and winter are my favourite times of the year!)