The Swedish Forest
My love affair with Sweden always included notions of woodland sprites, fairies, trolls, and nymphs. It seemed to me that in this Scandinavian land, one could experience a special kind of magic found only in a Nordic wilderness.
The culture of Sweden, and her neighbors, has a long history of embracing the spirit of the forest. Nature, and access to nature, is important and it is one of the reasons Allemansrätten (the right of public access) exists, allowing all people to roam freely on any land with the exception of private gardens and homes. Preservation of the environment is nearly encoded in the Swedish DNA and evidence of this is shown through their systems of recycling and waste management.
This love of nature is one of the things which drew me here. But I have to admit, I haven’t taken advantage of the beauty that surrounds me. I have been too distracted with finding work, fitting in, and keeping abreast of the news on my social media platforms.
These are dark times and it is now more important than ever to grab whatever beauty and refuge we can find wherever we can find it. It is more important then ever to indulge in a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of imagination, and to release our minds from the constant onslaught of bad news. More than ever we need to allow our eyes to follow the path of a butterfly, find faces and castles in the clouds, and listen to nothing more than the wind in the trees. Here in Sweden, this can mean simply walking out your door.
This week a good friend of mine invited me to her place for a visit and a walk in the forest. I was reminded that there is surely something magical about the forest. I’m not sure why it enchants me the way it does, but I’m always mindful of the elementals which I imagine (know) live and play out there. Perhaps it is the folklore or the fairy tales. Or its history or mythology. It is all that, but it is also the energy that one finds among the trees, moss, and lichen. It seems to give forth – like a gift.
The first thing I noticed upon entering the forest, was not the rush of the wind in the trees or the singing of birds. It was the relief I felt in my feet. They were not pounding on pavement or cobblestones, but instead were padding happily along among the moss, pine needles, and grasses. The feeling of the earth – actual dirt – beneath me was extremely satisfying. It was the act of being grounded … of being reconnected not only with the planet but with myself.