Memories of my grandmother: day 7-8

Dear grandmother,

We are between your homes now. This land is being abandoned, everyone is moving to the city and the fireweed -your flower, is left to claim the fields. I’ve never seen so many of them, they wave in the wind like purple weat.

On the way here we passed a charcoal kiln from WWII. The walls where broken and I could get inside to where the coal used to slowly burn. The brick walls where beautifully burnt and green from a thin layer of moss, old steel barrels lay on the ground. I remembered that you always enjoyed hearing about my travels so I will write to you instead of about you. That way I can still imagine your reactions and comments. You would say “Oh! That you dared!” when I told you about going into the kiln and I would get to feel like a brave adventurer reporting back to base camp.

The fields of fireweed also made me think about that summer when you made an outside theatre, telling the history of your birth place like a journey through time. They where everywhere that year. One of the characters in the theatre was the man “Vildhussen” that accidentally drained a whole lake trying to streamline the timber transportation on the river sometime in the 1700s. We passed the “Dead Waterfall” that was the result of his actions the day before yesterday. You would have really liked the salmon galets they serve there now.

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Fragment 9: fireweed. In swedish they are called “navvy-rose” because they grow on newly disturbed ground and followed the railroad-builders as a tail through the country.

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Newly abandoned field now covered with not yet fully blooming fireweed.

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Inside the charcoal kiln. The fire burned for two weeks at a time.

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The roof is slowly caving in.

Memories of my grandmother: day 6

Small pieces of glass at the roadside makes me remember that time when my grandmother took us to Paris by train. All the beautiful church windows. I was 12 years old and afraid to fly so I got my first proper backpack and we traveled by train. I’m wearing the same backpack right now, walking this road with the small pieces of glass. My cousin and I got to choose between Disneyland and Monet’s garden, he choose the land and I went to the garden. I’ve always longed for blue wisteria since that day but my country is too cold.

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The road goes on.

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Fregment 8: Colourful shards from collisions and bottles.

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If these horsetails where blue and hanging instead of standing they could almost remind of wisteria.

Memories of my grandmother: day 5

I remember that day when my grandmother’s cat brought home a full litter of hare-babies. One after another he picked them from their nest and piled them in a neat pile before we could catch him and make the extermination stop. It was when, as my sister put it, my grandmother lived in an “abandoned house in the forest”. It was the old midwife-house and strange herbs still grew in forgotten places around it. He was a great hunter, that cat. No mouse lived in that house for long. Another day he caught a seagull and draged it home, still alive. But then he didn’t know what to do with it so we nursed it back to health and let it fly again.

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Fragment 7: not hare-bone, but close enough.

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Abandoned car in the forest.

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Ridiculously pretty hay field, drying in the sun.

Memories of my grandmother: day 4

I remember my grandmother’s hands among the roses. She loved the white roses in her tiny garden. They were a gift from her mother. When she moved away from that house she brought clippings of the rose bush with her. Those hands did so many things. I see them flicking a pen while marking a script, brushing oil onto the lamb roast, holding surely around the steering wheel during one of out long drives and killing that potentially poisonous sprider in Spain that she always regretted afterwards. I see them grow curiously old, the skin getting softer, thinner and more transparent. My uncle, who was with her when she died said that at the end she couldn’t speak at all, except for the way she held his hand. “Imagine that”, he said “that the most important things you can say to someone, you can say just by holding their hand.”

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Fragment 6: Her kind of rose, it even smells right.

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A tiny house in a big world.

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Old road overgrown with moss.

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New road with thistles.

Memories of my grandmother: day 3

Once my grandmother was alone with all the children on the pine covered island. Hers and her friends’ children were playing among the cliffs and twisted island pines. No new food would arrive until the next day so when the last pasta on the island fell into the dish-water she rinsed it off and served it anyway. She laughed guiltily remembering that dinner, one of the full children afterwards smilig up at her and happily stating “you always use the best spices!” It was a rainy summer that year and a lot of sea to the shore.

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Along the river Indalsälven by canoe.

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Roots by the shore.

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Fragment 5: bark shard from pine in the shape of an island.

Memories of my grandmother: day 2

I remember trying on my grandmother’s wedding dress in front of the mirror in the room I always slept in, in the house where my mother was born. It was impossibly long and had an impossibly slim waist. I could just close the zipper, and I was only 8. The white silk was woven in a flower pattern and the long sleeves had rows of covered buttons down by the hands. She didn’t stay married for long but she always kept the dress. It smelled like her, some kind of flower I have never been able to figure out mixed with something dry and old, like rose petals that’s been dry so long they mostly smell of dust.

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Fragment 4: a piece of a double sided mirror.

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Lichens, like embroidery on the rocks.

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Mum checking her phone during a break by the river.

Memories of my grandmother: day 1

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Walking alone the river

I remember a picture I saw of my grandmother from when she was young. She had wide linnen trousers, a brick-coloured shirt and was sitting on the back of a big brown horse. Her hair looked wild in a stylish way and her face was a big smile. I remember thinking that this was who she was before I knew her, before she moved to the city, before she was mortal. Safe and wild she took on the world. How could she end up with a broken mind in a lonely place so far away from us?

But in some ways she was never alone at the end. In her mind, where time and logic no longer mattered, she was visited by long dead relatives. Her uncles kept her up at night, dancing on the second floor, her mother came to stay some days and all the places and friends she loved the most was just around the corner.

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Where she was born and where the picture with the horse was taken. There used to be a full ally of birch trees all the way up.

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Fragment 2: birch bark from the new trees by her old house.

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Fragment 3: soil from her parents grave.