III/LII Villa Villekulla

Walking through bare forests is one of the nicest things one could ever do. The monotony of the colour palette, the tiniest suggestions of an upcoming springtime evident in little pockets here and there. That sliver of time between cold and dreary and grey winter, and blossoming and green and leafy springtime- it's rarely acknowledged and so I thought that today, I'd take a little bit of time to acknowledge it, in all of its beauty. 'Oh, you should have come last month! We had glorious snow.' or, from the other direction, 'Oh, but it's so much more beautiful in the middle of Spring!'. These are the things I hear most regularly, and I don't usually disagree out loud, but inside I couldn't disagree more. I think seasons are each beautiful because of exactly what they are- they are seasonal. I love winter because of autumn, spring because of winter, summer because of spring. The list goes on in every possible combination of seasons helping me to appreciate other seasons, and I'm just grateful because there is so much variety. Perhaps I'll create a fifth season when the time comes to create worlds after life on earth is finished. A season just for the animals, where the humans hibernate instead and the animals are free to live and not be afraid of losing their homes, or their lives. Or perhaps a season where those flowers which only bloom a single day in their life, can freeze time and just BE. Or maybe just a season of frozen time- in general. Where an individual isn't frozen, but the whole world around them is caught in a single split-second of time. I'm not sure how it would work logistically, but there must be a way. A season where everyone and everything can catch up on all they're falling behind on, a time to just sit and to just be and to just appreciate the now and the current, uninterrupted by the greatest blessing and most cumbersome burden of all- that thing which we call Time.

It's Wednesday morning and I've spent the past hour listening to best-of Astrid Lindgren theme songs with tears in my eyes. I love that woman, what she stood for, what she did for literature and the world and especially what she did for Childhood. I grew up watching Pippi- in Swedish- and to be quite frank, I have no idea how much I understood. I read a collection of Pippi stories in German last year and they were all new to me- so I have now come to conclude that my mind made up the stories I gathered from the Pippi shows I watched as a child. If sitting your children in front of a show in a foreign language isn't going to assist the progression of their imagination, then what can? Well, lots of things. But it's a good, and easy start. Needless to say, every time anything even slightly related to anything Astrid, I get all these butterflies inside of me and feel tied to my family in a very real way.

Sunday showed me how much I love bare post-winter, pre-spring forests, and reminded me of how much I love my Scandinavian roots and associated pop culture. It was early afternoon and we'd already been to church that day, and then following Sunday lunch, we drove our way in a little blue car through the busy streets of Berlin, out a little ways further, and parked on the side of the road. Minutes later and we'd walked into what felt like another world completely- Grunewald. Bare and monotonous and beautiful, with mostly grey and brown and deep orange tones- with tiny sparks of fresh green here and there. Birds sung in the trees and my eyes followed a little leaf-green butterfly, flying all over the place in no recognisable pattern. We were a group of five- a Mum, Dad, their two little blonde-haired, wild-minded girls, and me, a brief addition to the family mix. We found a treehouse and a teepee made of sticks, their pup found the skull of what we believe to be was a wild pig, and after his big discovery, he ran excitedly through the leaves, unlocking a satisfying crunching sound along his way. At one point, little Raya got tired of holding her coat, so she found a big, long stick, hung it by its hood on the end of the stick, and balanced it from her shoulder. And then the magic happened, when she started whistling Här kommer Pippi Långstrump, skipping playfully along to the tune. And then her little baby sister, in true baby sister, ultimate-imitator style, also pulled off her little jacket, found a stick to hang it on, and went skipping along her way- humming along to the melody already being whistled. I couldn't help but to smile from the inside out because sometimes there are situations we find ourselves in that we truly do wonder are real or not. This was definitely one of them. Life is so personalised.

And then take yesterday for another example. I went out for a very early morning walk to meet the Swiss landscape for the first time, having arrived here just the day before. I walked up a hill here in little Hettlingen, and found myself watching a big group of gentle brown cows grazing, backlit by a softly rising sun, in a field covered in a blanket of early-morning mist. They had beautiful big bells around their necks and I wondered what they'd say if they had a say in that- I feel like they would have them removed, so they could live in peace. But that's just my opinion. Nonetheless, the tinkling sound was magical and I didn't even mind that I stood there for 10 minutes, just watching, as a group of teenagers waiting for their school bus on the other side watched me. Then I walked down a street and another street, glittered with modern, yet somehow traditional, quaint and cosy homes.  Little colourful flowers in all different shades seem to grow everywhere here- like there's a floral rug spread out across the front lawns of every home, and I'm not complaining because this is dreamland to me. I made my way further down the street until one house caught my eye- with wooden teddy bears decorating the streetward-facing side of the house, and extra flowers grew everywhere and there were planter boxes propped up on the window sills, and then I noticed a string of painted wooden letters attached to the garage door, spelling out the words 'Villa Villekulla'. The name of Pippi's home. Wow. That moment felt sacred to me and I still can't work out why, but as aforementioned, there's something about all things Astrid-related that put me in a trance of joy. It is strange and it is wonderful. I love my family.

And I love meeting new families, and staying with families I know from before. The bed I call mine for this week is the 22nd bed in the 22nd different place I've stayed this year. That doesn't sound like too many, but it's only March. And with every different home I've been in, I've learned something completely new. How interesting it is, that learning never, ever ends. One can continue learning from people and places he's been before- often more so than the brand new. And I think its because with familiarity comes depth. But at the same time, familiarity isn't time-based at all. Those people and those friendships that are immediate in depth and understanding can't possibly have been fostered just in a few short introductory seconds. Surely there have been many, many, many years of learning about one another, conscious understanding and assisting, before this life even began. And so, when stating that staying with families I know from before is one of my favourite things to do- I'm not sure if I'm referring to before in an earthly sense, or before we even came here. Nonetheless, families are divinely ordained and with every new front door I enter, this fact becomes more and more obvious to me. In what other circumstances can we learn so quickly and effectively? Parents are teachers and caretakers. They have the same goals and calling as missionaries- guiding children home to where they belong. The home is such an important part of life. And those who aren't fortunate to live in a safe and happy home at this time, all will be made fair for them later on. I trust that. 

The only thing I find difficult about living out of a suitcase for an indefinite amount of time is that I really, really, really like to decorate homes, and to have little things hanging and plants of my own breathing life into every room. But there'll be time for that later on- and so I'm doing my best to cherish this bizarre time of extreme learning and sleep deprivation and trying to maintain lives and friendships in 5 countries simultaneously, and rarely living in the comfort zone and meeting new- yet familiar- people, every single day, and walking through bare forests with blonde-haired, Pippi-theme-song-whistling children, and writing out hundreds of words every single night to myself about what that day gifted my mind and understanding of this world and why we're here. And then falling asleep thinking about how there is not one single way of doing life right, because we're all blessed to be so different, and that's what makes it all go 'round, and what keeps this world and this life interesting. 

The following images were taken in Sweden when I was there over the summer last year, on a camera which cost less than a bottle of Heidi-brand Swiss milk. Every time I clicked the shutter button on that little disposable camera, it was during a special moment when I felt like I was at home, with my family from both sides of the veil surrounding me. I am so grateful for the ability to record so many otherwise inexpressible things in so many unique, personal and poignant ways. Cameras are a gift. And so are words. And drawings, and scents, and sounds. I think I can do better at making the most of each of them to record life as we know it- now- as a pre-cursor to one day creating a world with a fifth season of frozen time. Yes, I'll do just that, and I'll start right now.