Spring doesn’t jump out at you in Sweden; sudden changes and abhorent weather shifts keep even the most stoic of us guessing. Rock doesn’t guess, speculate or ponder such uncontrolable forces as Mother Nature. He only has his eye on Lm. She is deep in her mind, remembering Easter egg hunts as a child in the United States with her cousins. She has one foot in the “Bible Belt” and another running with all her might north then to the edge of the Atlantic, fleeing to Sweden where everything yet nothing makes sense. In the southern states Easter meant a knew frock, white patten shoes and rejoicing after church in the sunshine with her cousins and family. Croquet and hunting colored eggs, jelly beans and fake green grass in her basket to stuff her findings in were just some of her fond recollections. Avoiding the ham with pineapple was her biggest challenge since she always won at croquet. Deviled eggs and chocolate pie can fill a belly and that’s what she loved. It was one of the only times of the year that everything went smooth. No fighting, no disasters and no face smacking for being a smarty pants, that is until she got a “D” in Algebra in eighth grade. Fearing her mother’s wrath she and a friend decided there was no way out and the holy week leading up to Easter they decided to run away. Hitch-hiking fifteen year olds in Nashville is not the safest choice. Two men in a pick-up stopped and let them sit in the middle. Rock slaps himself silly with astonishment as he has no clue how in the hell Lm and her friend, both with full make-up and cute little jeans and perms survived. An APB was put out notifying the state police. It just so happened Lm was not as stoic as she was behaving and asked to use the bathroom. The men in the pick-up obliged and pulled over at a gas station. When Lm got out a cop car pulled up and she was spotted pronto. The men were not charged, (huge question, eh?) and Lm and her friend were driven back to the suburbs where their parents met them at the one room police station. From that point they were forbidden from meeting outside of school which didn’t change their inner chaos and drama. That particular Easter Lm’s mother and step-father took her to an Easter buffet in a restaraunt. They slid their trays down metal railngs and picked out what they wanted from the massive amount of food in heated deep food bins. Lm only remembers the silence, the lack of extended family and her muteness which encompassed her early teenage years. She was not feeling particularly renewed, springy or at all joyful. Her mother looked sad in the way mother’s do when their kids totally screw up and they are in shock due to not having an inkling as to what to do next. Lm is sad because she, even now can’t replace that memory with a better one. Rock reminds her that curried eggs are her favorite and she shoves him and his new purple hat away. She wakes everyday wanting to try again to be better in every way; isn’t that what Easter is about? We get a fresh start if we are lucky; some of us sink into the past. Rock knows his job is to keep Lm in the now. Snow is falling in Sweden and there will not be an egg hunt outside or croquet, but maybe, just maybe she will shake off her dark past and embrace what she has now. Maybe. Rock wishes everyone a shot at reviving their inner beings. Peace and Happy Spring!
(Remnants of Isolation 2020-22) As a young adult living in Vermont, USA, tuning into a regular radio broadcast on Sunday morning with a warm mug of dark roasted coffee was a soulful retreat from the busy hum drudgery of the week. Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcast, “Prairie Home Companion” was exactly that, a delightful guest in my kitchen, a welcomed visitor with a smooth and soothing voice. The program was broadcast live from Minnesota, far away from the familiarity of my view of Mount Mansfield, part of the Green Mountain chain, where tall dark pines grew as far as the eye could see and neatly stacked firewood lined my weathered fence, much in need of mending. His famous quote, “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” His smooth tone ensured my next hour was pleasant and the inner reflections silence brings would quell any worries. I now live on Sweden’s west coast beside a lake named Lygnern. I am far from Vermont, even further from “Lake Wobegon” and soon for ten years this view from my bedroom window has given me insurmountable pleasure. Although I have human companions, two furry Lepus who have leapt into my heart (domestic rabbits of the Teddy Bear and Lion haired-breeds) and spoiled Hedemora chickens, the comforting confinement I once chose has now become a quarantine for survival. I have seen the lake shine like an ice-covered pond on sunny days, frothy waves rustling from gales off the North Sea, moon beams bouncing playfully and Lygnern completely hidden by heavy fog. This body of water I have become enchanted with is my companion and I its guest. I have sat on the edge of my bed crying with only Lygnern as my witness and comfort. I have sat with my husband on warm summer evenings by the shore, hands embraced, our eyes indulging in its romantic hues. Our love deepens while the water ebbs and it has become the idealistic metaphor of daily life. I have watched children splash, laugh and wild water swimmers tackle this natural playground. Now I look out and feel the anxiety of the pandemic, grateful for living away from the city yet Lygnern has not changed. It does not reflect fear, rather harbors the history of our region and continues to offer up beauty and solace. It survived the cholera epidemic and on ridges near are graveyards of our village victims who once fished and swam in this lake, too. It has had rowboats browse these shores for centuries, ferries of wedding parties and been the backdrop for celebrations and gaiety for those long gone. Lygnern embodies in its wake the memories we both cherish and take for granted. From my window Lygnern will continue to be my companion differently than any other. All who have a view develop their own relationship with it. My worries flow and my hope grows; each day or even hour this lake offers gracefully and precisely what I need. For those alone during this history in the making, the 2020th year and onward shall forever induce memories of solitude; your view is up to you to create. If you look out and spy a streetlamp or a seagull, they are your personal mirror of Now. In solitude may we all find a path to inner peace by opening the pages of a book that takes us far away from our physical quarantine, tune in and listen to others and imagine your own comforting scenery. I never saw Lake Wobegon or met Garrison Keillor, yet they were as comforting every Sunday as an old friend who’d popped into town and surprised me. From Lake Lygnern I send each one of you a picturesque view during difficult times, and with a warm heart, I wish your days to be a bit brighter than the day before. I will continue to write from my perch above Lygnern in my cosiest sweater and I will commit to compliance not complacency while breathing in my view of this historically rich land and water. From outside the city, where the lake listens, the sun rises and sets and yes, we all `” think” we are good looking, Peace.
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