Last week, we got to take part in this amazing story by Emilie Henry, which we of course couldn't resist sharing with the rest of you. In late 2019, Emilie decided to take on the adventure of moving her life from the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia, to a little cottage in the Swedish countryside. A place where she discovered, and fell in love with gardening, and everything that comes with living by nature. Keep reading to tag along on her journey!
“So, on the first day of 2020, I landed at the airport in Gothenburg with very little idea as to how the next year would turn out. I moved into a little red cottage or as Swedish people say - a “Torp”. This torp was built in the late 1800’s, and my mum renovated it when she bought it in the late 1980s.”
“While I have lived mostly in Australia, as my dad is Australian and that is where my parents raised my siblings and I, I have also spent many summers in the torp. Those summers were magical and a big part of why I had always known that I was going to live here more permanently one day. Still today in my mid-twenties, being in nature fills me with child-like wonder. I feel free and unrestrained as I wander and wander through the forests and swim in the lakes.”
“During the last year I have become particularly interested in plants and experimenting in the garden. Sweden experiences four true seasons, while in Australia it's either summer or it’s not. Which means that I get to be surprised and excited by new plants and colors every other month. In spring 2020, I started working at the local plant nursery, and since then have learnt so much about gardening. The lovely people that I work with have been working with gardens for most of their lives, and have such great plant wisdom. This is probably the main perk of the job – being able to pick their brains every time I have a question about gardening.”
“Earlier this year I started sowing seeds, possibly for the first time in my life. Watching something grow from nothing is amazing. I wouldn’t say that I have been super successful the first-time round, but it is a great hobby that I hope to become better at. My goal is to become more self-sufficient and to care for the Earth in my own small way. I also, more recently, built some hügelkultur-styled garden beds, with the help of mum’s brother and his wife. Hügelkultur consists of a layering technique including paper, logs, compost, manure, and soil. The thought is that as the lower layer decomposes the beds will hold heat and moisture in a way that other beds do not. I personally chose this style as it encourages the natural progression of nature and because the access to water here can be limited depending on the season.”
“Another part of moving here that I love is my connection to the local community. Country people are good-hearted people. There is always someone willing to help when my water pipes freeze, or when I’m in need of a bunch of cow manure for my garden. The people here are also connected to the forests in the surrounding area. Many have their own secret places for picking berries and mushrooms. And although most Swedes will never reveal their secret chanterelle picking spot, I am often invited to enjoy the spoils with them, whether in the form of a jar of homemade jam or home cooked meal. The people here are aware of the nature surrounding them, and treat it with care.”
“There is often an excitement when young couples and families move into the old houses as we know that there is a desire to preserve these cottages and farmhouses as opposed to tearing them down and building new structures. The same goodness is seen in those who have turned old barns into shops with a focus on bringing local artist’s and handcrafter’s work together. Many who live here have their family in the area, and some even have a deeper family history on this land. I respect the sense of history and I am keen on learning about those who came before me. But, I am also invested in this land’s future and hope that many more people will live and take care of these homes and the soil that they stand on, as the years go on.”
“These days I wake to the sound of birds singing in the mornings and I am often greeted by the cows in the evenings. Right now, everything is green and when the wind blows through the trees, cherry blossoms move like falling snow. When I try to describe nature here to my friends in Australia, I often use words like enchanting and fairy tale-like. I have been blessed with two very different countries to call home. When I think of Sweden it is in lush greens, soft pinks, and lakes of shining waters; while I see burnt oranges, reds, browns, bright colored flowers and raging seas when I dream of Australia. Both so distinct and yet so beautiful.”
“Nature has always held a dear place in my heart. Being free of the noise and chaos of cities allows for space in both your heart and your mind. For me being in the wild has helped me grow spiritually. It has called for reflection and encouraged me to seek peace and joy in all things. I believe in Jesus, who seemed to make it a habit to withdraw to gardens and the wilderness to pray. I hope and feel that the future will lead to more and more people moving away from overdeveloped areas and back to the wild.”
Thank you so, so much Emilie, for sharing your incredible story. We hope you readers enjoyed it as well, and maybe got even a bit more inspired and curious to explore all the amazing things the blooming nature among us brings.