Do you remember that time when I helped you to move? I was so efficiant in packing away your kitchen things that you had to call me for months afterwards to ask where things where hidden. We are right by that house now. Your last house, with the amazing view. We reached the sea finally, crossing half this country on foot to get here. I remember you walking slowly in this place, your hip hurting more and more. But you never stopped picking away the weed that wanted to live in your driveway. You brought a foldable chair with you, sat down and picked away, then moved the chair one step foreward, sat down again and continued. You had plans when you moved here, even though you somehow knew you where moving back north to die. Someone else live in your house now. They are not as good at picking away the weeds, but I’m sure they love the view. We slept the last night at that museum you liked so much, they have cottages for hire now in the middle of all the historical buildings. We had dinner at the same table where you and I ate. We talked about you. We will continue to talk about you.
Fragment 13: a piece of weed from her driveway, since she is no longer there.
The sea at last.
The cliffs fall apart like cubes here.
Detail from one of the sets at the museum Mannaminne.
I doubt that you remember the last christmas we spent together. It was the last time you went south, but for you geography was just a matter of convinience. By then Spain was on the second floor of the house and the kitchen was preparing the Nobel-price dinner. You where apparently there to interview us about our family restaurant, not at all to celebrate christmas, even though you got confused every time you remembered that you where also part of the family. I tried to correct your thoughts and bring you back to reality, until I realized that being corrected constantly is no fun and what is reality anyway? So we embarked on a journey through your mind insted. Every time you asked the same question I gave you a different answer, to see which one you liked the best. We ended up with plans to go to the north pole by hot air ballon. All those plans gone, offcourse, five minutes later but you liked them while they lasted. The next five minutes was a different adventure.
I wanted to tell you that it was one of my best christmases and I will never stop being amazed of how the mind creates reality, even though I will never stop missing having a long and continious conversation with you.
Fragment 12: a piece of fir / a bit of christmas tree
In this house the christmas candles where still in the window.
A farm with a view.
A wonderful but closed down roadside restaurant called “the Swan”.
I think I found your glasses by the road today. Or at least parts of them. It could easily be them, you had so many. Your glasses where always a bit bent and crooked, from being sat on or for fallen asleep with in front of the television or somehow getting under lots of bags in the car.
We walked the road of the famous 1931 strike protest today, the one that ended with the military opening fire against it’s own population and killing five people. A dark day in swedish history, but as some dark days do, it changed this country for the better since (almost) everyone realized the brutality was way over the top and that the military should have nothing to do with civilian matters anymore.
You where six years old when this happened. You didn’t need glasses yet. You had long before you would fall asleep in front of a television. You had not even sat in a car. You had all these years left.
Fragment 11: a lens from a pair of broken glasses.
Detail from the memorial of “the shots in Ådalen”, front page from the local newspaper the day before the protests with the news that led to the protests (“Strike breakers invades Ådalen”).
Do you remember when we drove through the mountains and you held on so hard to that little handle above the window each time your side of the car faced the edge? In every turn of the serpentine road you made your scared-sound by sucking in air through clenched teeth. You told everyone afterwards how scared you had been and you eyes glittered full of joy every time.
Fragmnet 10: a piece of a rusty car we found along the trail today.
The trail goes on for at least a km in each direction, how did it get here?
We are in sawmill country now.
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.
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.
Newly abandoned field now covered with not yet fully blooming fireweed.
Inside the charcoal kiln. The fire burned for two weeks at a time.
The roof is slowly caving in.
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.
The road goes on.
Fregment 8: Colourful shards from collisions and bottles.
If these horsetails where blue and hanging instead of standing they could almost remind of wisteria.
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.
Fragment 4: a piece of a double sided mirror.
Lichens, like embroidery on the rocks.
Mum checking her phone during a break by the river.
You are the same house, the same door. You are probably the same birch trees, all grown up. But you surround a meadow now, not a neatly cut lawn. In some places you can still hear the gravel creak beneeth the grass where we used to play mini golf. But you trees, you house and door with peeling paint, you saw her here. You saw me too. Maybe I look older now and these memories will die with me, but I remember you.
During two weeks my mom and I will follow in my grandmother’s footsteps as we walk from the village where she was born, to the village where she died. Along the way, in this landscape of hers, I will collect fragments that remind me of her and document it here. This is day 0, we are now in Stugun where she was born. Time to sleep, tomorrow we start walking.
The way down to the river, overgrown by flowers.
Nobody lives here now, but someone cared enough to fix the roof.
One of these layers must have been painted by her.
Peeking through the key hole.
The first fragment collected.