Monday, September 17, 2012

A Swedish House

I've had a lot of people ask me, "how do you like your new house?" and it's with a smile that I say that we really like it.  It's not because I'm lying because we really do like it.  It's just because we had no choice during our house hunt.  Literally, this was the only house that was in the universe of our "budget" that accommodated pets and was still located within Stockholm. We kind of have to like it or be miserable. I suppose we have two options.

Surprisingly, we lucked out and landed
in a really nice neighborhood that has a mix of really old retirees and young families.  Everyone is very nice and considerate and we've never experienced neighborhood living where people will stop in your front yard and chat you up.  Even in my parents' neighborhood, the neighbors give an obligatory wave and drive away quickly.  Not here.  We were walking down the street and saw our neighbor and his son cleaning up their yard.  It wasn't weird at all that we stopped and chatted for 10 minutes.  We walk around our street trying to emanate the vibe, "Yeah, we're friendly! Come over! We'll make you dinner." We aren't desperate for friends

The location itself is on an island (of course, it's Stockholm after all) and is the perfect blend of being near the city (30 mins by train), Baltic Sea, and nature reserve/forest.  It is absolutely beautiful to walk down to the Baltic (~20 mins) and hang out on the rocks.  Calvin loves throwing pinecones into the water and Bessie loves to romp and play.  She can slurp up the not-so-salty-seawater without throwing up so it's a win-win for everyone.  I love quiet days on the rocky beach, just overlooking the water and watching the boats go by.
Just sitting and relaxing on a beautiful day
Bessie is the happiest I've seen in years!
Beach day!
The nature reserve, also the site of the longest (30k) cross-country race in the world (Lidingö Loppet), is remarkably beautiful and reminds be a lot of the forests in the Pacific Northwest.  There are moss covered rocks, ferns, pine trees and deer dotted throughout the landscape.  Walking along the trails, you might come upon a pile of rocks, which are actually a viking burial ground from the Bronze age.  How AWESOME is that?!?!  It's not nearly as creepy as it sounds though.
A horse farm behind our house
Calvin and I go on long walks hunting for blueberries and venturing off the beaten paths to discover new sights and sounds.  There are a few lakes around the island that can be discovered and there is no feeling quite like a long walk in the woods when the trees part to a beautiful lake.
Surprise view of a lake on our morning run
Operation Blueberry: Success!
Jon and I have been running on the weekends and not only is it a great way to discover new places but it's a nice detox from any stress or craziness that might be going on.  Not surprisingly, living abroad can bring up a few stressors here and there and it's always good to start fresh.

What I think I love most about living here is that it reminds me so much of my childhood vacations in northern Maine.  Every year when I was a kid, my parents would take me and my brother hiking and camping in the woods of Bar Harbor, Maine.  The rocky coast, cooler climate, and trees all have that familiar feel to them.  I feel like I'm on my childhood vacation everyday.  I'm so lucky that I get to share a similar experience with my own son and show him the adventures hidden in the woods and the sea.  

There are two things that Maine has that Sweden doesn't:
  1. A distinct evergreen smell mixed with the salty sea.  As a kid, I would always stick my head out the window of the car and breathe in that "Maine" smell.  
  2. A creepy/haunted feeling when walking through the woods.  Maine's woods just feel creepy at night. Maybe I should blame Boomps for telling me all of those ghost stories around the campfire but my hypothesis is that the Native Americans in Maine haunt the woods, whereas the vikings are resting peacefully in these woods.  Both were fierce warriors, but the viking spirits are satisfied in their stone ships and have moved on to the afterlife.  For real though, Maine woods are creepy, Swedish woods are peaceful.  It's just a feeling I have.
A few viking burial mounds in the distance

Swedish forest
Bar Harbor, Maine <3

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