This photo from Sheila Noren called ‘Lunch with a View’ – Denmark, brought back instant memories and a sense of nostalgia for Scandinavia which never seems to go away. Around the time I moved back to Scotland in 1975, my cousin Joan married a Swede and moved to Sweden where she lived for 5 years and walked the same streets I had walked in my time there. Apparently I wrote a letter to my Aunt and Uncle saying that it seemed that the Rosses had unfinished business with the Vikings and that certainly seems to be the case for both my cousin and I who share that nostalgia. It also gives us a means of teasing our other cousin Elizabeth as she gets very grumpy when we start to speak Swedish together – can’t think why!
I think the nostalgia originates in the formative years I spent in Sweden between 25 and 30, carving out my own identity, having the freedom to adopt new aspects of my environment and making them my own. I studied at University totally engrossed in the brain development of bilingual toddlers, became VERY political embracing the freedom which feminism allowed and was able to articulate anti-war sentiments and still to this day believe that war accomplishes nothing and anger only hurts the angry person.
I liked the spring, summer and autumn seasons there, but absolutely hated the empty darkness of winter in my everyday life. I loved commuting by fishing boat when we lived out in the Stockholm islands and while I never was much good at rowing, except when we were becalmed out sailing and there was no other choice, I loved being on the water and still love boats, and I loved little cafes on the waterfront that served open sandwiches drowning in prawns with a sprig of dill.
So I carry the gift that Scandinavia gave me of becoming part of my personality at a crucial time in my life, and I carry the gift of nostalgia which comes with being rooted in one place but holding fond memories of another.
My daughter gave me this print from Lisa Congdon. It’s a quote from Louisa May Alcott: “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
My daughter knows me so well and knows what my priorities are and I wake up every morning with this hanging opposite my bed as a reminder of what I am about.
To be living in a place I love with the sea all around, with nostalgia for a place on the sea which gave me many challenging experiences is the best of all possible worlds. Sheila belongs to both worlds in that we first met in Sweden in the early 70’s when we were both teaching English. She still lives in Sweden but has a cottage on Arran. I met her again in a gallery on the island and as we were chatting I knew she was familiar. That the connection went so far back was amazing and I love the fact now that she posts photos of Sweden on Facebook which take me back there instantly, though at the same time leaving me grounded here.
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(Details on Scottish Island Mum website about Meditation through Writing)