Breathing place

The first thing that hits me is the smell. The smell of wet moss, pine trees, sun heated rock. The smell of Sweden. It hits me with such force when I step out of the car that I am immediately filled with nostalgia.  

A day prior I rolled into a Stockholm bathed in the shining light of a sun setting. Numerous hot air balloons giving the city silhouette almost a magical touch. Perhaps I am too biased to actually give a true account, but Stockholm is truly a beautiful city. Yet this magical moment is nothing compared to the feeling that hits me when I reach Tyresö national park. The smell of nature is too overpowering in this environment.  

My father and I take the virgin forest hiking trail. Walking in an environment that for hundreds of years has not been touched by human hands. It is a climb from lower ground covered with tall firs to higher rocky hills with curved pines that look like a combination of torment and wild beauty. On the lower grounds dozens of different moss grow wet and deep green, on the hillside the rocky landscape is covered in white moss and lichens in a multitude of colours. Everywhere wild flowers and blueberry bushes grow. I grab a hand full of blueberries – the taste of Swedish summer. Their small round bodies are full of flavour, in a way that the grown so-called blueberries you find in the German shops never are, and they leave a trace of purpur on my fingers.  

Occasionally the grab a hold of one of the few leaf trees that grows randomly between the pines. The leaves rattle together creating an eerie sound that is transported over the rocky landscape. In the lower regions of the forest the sun beam through the treetops creating a quilt of green shades on the ground reflected in the moss. Here and there between the branches spiderweb glister in the sun, a couple of frogs jump around our feet perfectly disguised until they move and around us dragonflies and butterflies search for a place to rest their feet.  

It amazes me that after just a quick car ride we are in the middle of the forest. The landscape in north Germany rarely allow for this and it is never the “right” kind of forest. North Germany is flat, cultivated, filled with too much people and much of the forest is planted, not naturally grown. It strikes me again how much I miss this. While living in Germany I can rarely pinpoint what it is that I miss. It becomes most clear when I ride the train or taking a tour somewhere. On the train in Germany the landscape is dominated by buildings, villages, cultivated land. The number of trees can almost be counted (this is of course a grave overstatement) as you pass. Travelling in Sweden it is the houses that can be counted (not an overstatement). The entirety of the trip is dominated by greenery, trees, forests. Everything else is the exception.  

In a previous post I made the argument that the worst thing about Magdeburg is the broad streets – the lack of substance. Now I would like to make the complete opposite argument. It is the lack of untouched nature, the place where no substance has been added that is what is missing. It is almost like an emotional imprisonment, where the calming of nature is missing. There is no place to breathe away from the huzzle of human interference.  

I am very happy to be in Sweden for a little while. It is a much needed break to once again fill my lungs. 

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