The sun sets later here two hours north of Stockholm on the south bank of the river – the Dal – that was the traditional border between Svealand and Norrland, and we no longer in a north facing city apartment but in a house with a big lawn between two other houses with big lawns, and this gives some sense of space to our summer home, a view of the sky and some birch trees on the edges of the pine forest.
We do not own a car, and the first thing our neighbor asked us today, as we walked past her house on the way to the one grill/store in Marma was “How will you shop?”
We have shopped for the entire summer, E replied, which is true, mostly, as she did three straight days of marathon shopping with her younger sister. I can not even rent a car in Sweden right now, though I have the drivers test books and must start studying all four of them in their intimidating blue plastic envelope.
The house is not perfect, though the downsides are fading fast with each day. But those downsides correspond almost exactly with the upsides.
For instance, we are on the train line. We do not need a car to have a summer house with a huge lawn in a forest glade near a lake-like river. However, we live near the train line, and the old (twice removed) highway to Norrland. This means noise – and train noise is no longer charming, a sustained whine and rush both coming and going. This corridor is also home to a really big power line, which cuts across the little inlet at the one beach/grill and can not be avoided on any hike or even through the trees behind our house.
Oh, and we live near an old Swedish military firing range. It is used infrequently, but we have heard the guns twice, and it takes me eerily back to that rural life in Croatia and Bosnia, where I saw no fighting but heard lots of unexplained machine gun fire at night.