Heaven Really is Closer in Osterlen
After seven months; six continents; 23 countries (and three more where we just spent time in or close to the airport); 42 flights; trains, boats, cars, busses, riding of all sorts, and walking; countless new friends and experiences; and enough memories to last a lifetime, we arrive at our summer home in Osterlen, Sweden. Sian and I have spent part of every summer in Sweden since we first met at Miami University in the fall of 1988 – wow, 23 years ago! And since 2000, we’ve had the girlies in tow – just like we do wherever we go – as a family. We consider this our home, just as we do Topsfield, MA. And this homecoming was different from any other – given that we took the really, REALLY long way to get here.
I sat next to Linnea on the plane from Paris to Copenhagen (Sian and Kajsa sat a couple of rows in front of us). We listened to our iPods while looking out the window – tears trickling down our cheeks (streaming down mine). Tears of joy that we’re here; tears of sadness that the grand adventure is almost over (at least physically – it will continue to play in our minds for the rest of our lives); tears of relief that we made it without any complications (on the contrary, it was surprisingly easy once we found our rhythm); and tears of anticipation (will we still love Osterlen and Southern Sweden now when we have seen the world?) So much was going on for both of us that we didn’t do much talking – listening to “Cry” by James Blunt probably didn’t help either.
Osterlen is a unique place on the Eastern shores of Southern Sweden. When Swedes think of Osterlen, they think of an unspoiled countryside with the resonance of Provence and Tuscany. A magical place where the blue sky meets the blue ocean meets the gently rolling green and yellow fields, forests, and meadows. It’s a place that has attracted artists for generations – often rumored to have the most number of artists per capita than any other place in Europe. They come for the light and they stay for the quiet and simple rural life in this part of Skane where the clock ticks at a distinctly slower pace – inviting everyone to slow down and live in the now. It’s as the song by Michael Saxell goes; “heaven is closer in Osterlen.” And it’s a place where it’s impossible not to believe in the magic of life.
And this summer, more so than maybe any other summer that I can remember since growing up in Skane, Osterlen seems more special than ever. The Himalayas have rugged and awe-inspiring beauty. But Osterlen has a certain gentleness that you can wrap your arms around – like a favorite fuzzy blanket. Tierra Del Fuego has deep magic. The Serengeti has raw magic. The Middle East has ancient magic. The Far East has magic on a scale unmatched elsewhere. And New Zealand has the one ring that rules them all. But Osterlen has the kind of magic that is easy to believe in – it’s simple, rural, and easier to understand. It’s a place where Mother Nature shows off her gentle side – like a nursery.
We all felt it as we arrived. We all feel it as we stay here. Osterlen is home away from home. How many times have I heard the girls say “oh pappa, I’m so happy we are here”? Too many times to count. It really is true, you have to see the world to appreciate what you have – and maybe even to make what you have just a little bit better.
So we are here – our last stop on the journey. Surrounded by everything that is familiar to us and that we love; friends, family, nature, food, and absolutely the best fika in the world – bar none! We’ve seen the world and we love Osterlen even more because of it. It’s a little more than two weeks before we return home to Topsfield and begin thinking about reconnecting with our old life again. We intend to spend these last days on our journey recovering, reflecting, and maybe more than anything, just living – the four of us together – in a place where our hearts and souls spend summers (and for me, maybe more?)
Voila, as Thomas would say!
Tagged: Around the world travel, Illstorp, james blunt, miami university, Ostergard, Osterlen, seeing the world, Skane, Sofiero, southern sweden, Sweden, taking a year off, topsfield ma, travel around the world, travel with kids, unspoiled countryside
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