Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Going Home Jabber

On the day of our departure from Höllviken, Sweden, across the Oresund Bridge and borne into the air over the top of the world from Copenhagen, Denmark to Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., I wasn’t finished packing or cleaning. The cupboards bore signs of spilled sugar and pepper and the kitchen floor needed mopping. Tell-tale signs of salt-water winds and on-the-fly birds streaked the windows. (Good thing we had generous and understanding Landlords!) I was still shoving items into boxes and suitcases, taking too much time taping and labeling the boxes, etc. Phil went behind me collecting things into a pile and vacuuming. We were giving away and throwing away more than we ever thought we would!

If it hadn’t been for some very helpful friends (one to help me pack more efficiently late into the night and another to offer to keep a few boxes and take us to the airport with all of our other baggage), we probably would have missed our flight! When we do this again, we’ll have to remember not to fill our time with so many visits with friends (how?), last minute sight-seeing trips (really?) and to hire out the cleaning. I’m not the young packer/cleaner I used to be!

Speaking of visits and trips, we enjoyed quite a few in the last three weeks of our time in Sweden. During that time, we had our first barbeque on the beach, my first barefoot walk in the sea, our first Almondy (Daim) cake, our first flight over the yellow-blossomed rape seed fields, Hunter’s first trip to Folket’s Park to ride the rides, my first meal in Skanor, tea at Vellinge Blomman with the person who originally told me about it, a chance to bake Swedish sweet breads and share them with my Fika Friends, and more I will write about more fully. Each event represents a person or family we spent time with, more whom I didn’t mention. Our hearts were positively full with the privilege of knowing so many wonderful people and our sights fixed on returning to see them again!

Busy as we were, I was grateful for an afternoon flight. Phil and Hunter gave me the window seat. It was the best seat I’ve ever had on an airplane. The only passenger I had to climb over was Hunter and the bathroom was immediately behind us. Our chairs still reclined. It was easy to get up and walk around awhile. However, I mostly studied the beauty of the Northern hemisphere as we passed over it.

I wondered when the green islands of Denmark would ever cease. Norway’s fjords and high mountains neatly smothered in frosting-like layers of snow took my breath away. Greenland was so white under the brilliant sun that I had to actually close the window against the blinding light (and felt deeply disappointed not to get some sense of the contours). There were miles upon miles of icebergs and ice floes, snow-covered lakes, their edges and spots of pure glacial blue shining through. The seas we flew over made ships look like ants. We flew over miles of brown land. When I called Phil over to see it, he said it must be what they called “The Barren Land.” When signs of habitation developed here and there until we could also see obvious towns and cities as we neared the North American West Coast, it was almost as amazing as seeing no habitation at all. The landscape changed first to more snow in the Northwest Territory, then to green with small patches of snow. The big snow year for North America was obvious both in the amounts of snow we saw and in the depths of green the landscape revealed.

Something in me wanted to walk on many of those places, but another part of me was content to drink in the beauty and wonder from the air.

Most strange and wonderful of all was approaching the United States from above. Even the flight map showed The States upside down. It was a bit of a challenge to find the landmarks I know so well. My father is a small airplane pilot, so I’ve learned to recognize many things from the air, even if my knowledge of them has been only bookish. However, the approach over the top of the earth threw me a curve, to say the least! I couldn’t even take a nap the whole time, so enamored was I with the new sights.

It was overcast and cool in Seattle. Though my oldest daughter lives in Seattle and we had a two hour layover, we opted not to get together as she had a bad cold and traffic would have been horrendous the Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend. Calling her from my U.S. cell phone was novel enough.

Our flight from Seattle to Spokane was delayed multiple times, but we arrived safely. I was glad to hug my middle daughter. We had her drive us home as we were very tired. At one point we could see the Spokane area horizon, including some of our own mountain ranges in North Idaho and we were struck by the familiarity as well as the strangeness of it. Its strangeness was due to its complete dissimilarity to Southern Sweden and its newness compared to the ancient buildings of Europe and Scandinavia.

Upon entering our own home, the sense of how much work was ahead compounded our weariness. Though the house was clean and in fairly good order, the aftermath (not so tidy piles) of my daughter moving out, two sets of renters moving out and the things we had left undone was a powerful blow. We’d had it fairly easy in Sweden, it appeared. We visited my daughter and her boyfriend a short while later, but were soon situated for sleep (it would be a week before I could sleep in my own bed due to a malfunction in the air mattress).

The next morning we busily packed again, Phil collected the held mail and Hunter ran around the neighborhood catching up with his little neighborhood friends. After this, we left for a long drive (nearly as long as our flight the day before) to Southern Idaho for my nephew’s graduation. A week ago, today, we returned home to the work set out before us.

We’ve mowed the lawn three times in an effort to get it under control. There is more to do, but it has been raining. Phil got the garden tilled and planted. Yesterday and today we have finally returned to our jobs and not just to the work around the house.

My body likes being back in the Pacific Northwest. It seems to know this is it’s time zone. However, on nights after I’ve worked too hard around the house and couldn’t sleep, I think of Sweden—my friends, Europaporten, the landscape and the sea. There is a kind of fear that I will forget as the distance wants to pull my memories with it. Because of this, I will be writing about some of our last adventures in Sweden before I write about the adventures we’re already having in The States.

Funny, people are talking about their vacations. We just want to be home where the lakes are great for skiing and swimming, the amusement park is putting up a new roller coaster, yard sales are abundant, we have access to camping supplies, we’re back at our own church, and the neighbors over the fence have been so warmly welcoming!

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