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we took to the woods

Seems no matter how far I drive (today 75 km each way), or how carefully I strategize, I cannot find a wifi spot that is operational at the moment and accessible. So here I am mouse-typing with burned, sore fingers on my phone, and backspacing as much, unable to see the blog. I imagined being able to share much more of this experience in words and pictures. Well, maybe these technical difficulties form a good metaphor for the week — I feel I did all the thinking about moving to the cabin back in Singapore, and now I am just doing, blindly, so deep in (if I leave some warm water in the teapot inthe AM, I can wash my face — one and a half wheelbarrows of wood is one full day’s warmth) that I cannot see ahead or reflect. But that’s ok for now.

The girls take naturally to the woods. Never had so much room to freely roam, and it brings out the best in them. “In my culture,” said E. yesterday (a stock intro for her) “people care so much, they think everything is God… plants, animals, humans…” Word for word. They sing all the time, they’re full of ideas and questions. The potty is scary (not to mention the deeper forest), the rooms are cold, but they are always brave. They try really hard.

Lucky to connect with a kind Chinese family whose elegant teenagers watched the girls a couple of hours this week. Their spotless home was devoid of any personal touch, not a photo, nothing sentimental. They are incredibly gracious. I love them and the fascinating differences so much. I am knee-tremblingly grateful for their and other strangers’ generous help this week. Sweden feels diverse and peaceful and practical… also prosaic. In the bizarre hot tub at the chilly pubic pool (ten people crammed in, strictly and courteously not curious and not meeting eyes) we met the woman who was to be E.’s schoolteacher, had we arrived in time to enroll this year. “We are waiting for you,” she said.

Did laundry by hand (basin, stick) and it worked. That’s a milestone. Scooping out the latrine too. I am nervous every time I need to go to town or ask a question; that will doubtless fade. No time to study the language now.

Torn fingernails and two elusive splinters. It’s magic when the fire catches, thrilling when I get a meal on the table and we sit still for a moment.

Without darkness, the routine that we’ve upheld since E’s babyhood has been turned upside down, with ten PM bedtimes for the girls and very little sleep at all for me. I lay awake and wonder how to wash the rugs, how to make sure I track the car’s mileage by hand since the odometer stopped working over the Atlantic.

There is (of course? no, amazingly) a beautiful old lady down the gravel road whose family owned our house for many decades. We met her yesterday through the car window; she was walking in a heavy sweater, holding a handful of yellow blommar, and she only said, “Äverum?” (that’s the name of the house) with bright eyes, as if she approved. And pointed to the flowers and said our house’s name again. Yes, I saw them in our yard, too.

In town I try people’s patience and I hate that. But next week, A. will come, and that will be like a giant wind that blows away any lingering gloom, and every rung up this steep learning curve will feel more like a hilarious adventure. We miss you!