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I painted this chair yesterday and I mopped that floor

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The chair is the first piece of furniture I ever bought, I call it my “high chair”, I use it to contemplate.
The floor is the first floor I ever layed.

In our first cabin we split solid logs in two layed them down, flat side up. This floor however is store-bought (shitty boards, they wanted to throw them out) the reason and one of the more important lessons when building pioneer-style: Yes. You can! build everything yourself, absolutely but not in ONE SEASON. Can´t be done.

This is my home-position

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This is my work-position
(a reader of mine recorded some bits and pieces from a talk show)

This is dinner

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(I call it “Pulled cockerel”)

And this is my son Sebastian as he looks the moment he arrives home

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Still goofy. Wise eyes.

My daughter will also come home soon.

If you have the time I strongly recommend this (more or less) long read by Rachel Cusk. She writes about adolecense and the hurt you experience as a parent- when your children begin to challenge and redefine the family story (and the simultaneous pride because you know, deep down, that it´s a good thing, you know that the story you so carefully crafted is inadequate)

In a way it´s a good thing with this snowfall- it gave me the time to finish up the work that had to be done on the inside.
Painting the past. Mopping the floor. A chance to carry the child even though he´s getting to big for it. To realize that I have accepted the work and now rest in it. Canning dinner so we can eat well in the busy days to come… soon we will run out like escaping prisoners or wild goats, we will roll out to outside like a tsunami but not just yet.

We need to negotiate the family story. We need to eat pickled herring on rye bread and hunt easter eggs.

The featured image to this post is my doorstep.
Snow. Thaw. Snow.
As I write this: a heavy snowfall on the outside, as if the outside dosn´t want us to go there, as if we are confined to the inside.

I´m writing a book about something spiritual. It´s been a work in process for years. What I love the most in the whole wide world (besides my family) is to sit by this table, drink this writing tea, work on that book- it might be “professional” suicide but I think it´s time we begin to speak about the spiritual, seems as a logical next step. To connect the mopping of floors with larger concepts such as “the meaning of life” for instance. Not to mention how climate change requires us to redefine and negotiate the family story of human kind.
How climeate change demands that we contextualize our existence.

My spirituality revolves around the gods of my ancestors.
The old had a concept called “Fimbul winter”
Fimbul winter is the beginning of the collapse, the end of the world as we know it. A winter that never ends. Bonechilling cold, heartbreakingly dark. Winter, to my ancestors, was a time of working on the inside (family, self- this might be the reason why we Scandinavians are so eery) but it is also a time that needs to end.
It absolutely and most necessarily needs to end.
Doomsday would be a winter that never ends.
The worst possible scenario, the most incomprehensible tragedy, the horror!

So when I wine about the snowfall, when my desperation pours through this screen it´s because I can´t STAND that this winter… does not end.

My neighbour is in Denmark working. When she heard about the snowfall she began to cry.

I can´t believe it´s snowing right now.
Big fat snowflakes.

I´ll continue to report.

21 comments on “As above so below

  1. Dear Andrea
    It is true–That is what we are having–winter that refuses to end.
    Big fat snowflakes yesterday, cartoon-flakes in a cartoon Christmas card. Pretty? Yes–if it was christmas, but now it is almost easter.

    You pulled up good thoughts about it. you springboard off a mundane moment and connect us to it in larger ways.
    It is 5am here, still snowing, first sip of coffee coming up.
    Where i live the christmas wreaths don’t come off the doors until good friday. Don’t know what they do elsewhere but it is an old island custom.
    If i had better command of memory and old sayings I would come up with a nugget that mentions the significance of spring snow. The old farmers probably connected it to an aspect of the coming growing season. (Spring snow is “the poor man’s fertilizer”: the nitrogen it picks up from the atmosphere falls on soil that is thawed so is not lost.)
    We had a community potluck and dance last night. About one hundred twenty five turned out despite crappy weather, people I went to elementary and junior high school with (the band members as well). they play country&western and covers of oldies but everyone can dance to it, middle-aged and older as well as the little kids who do much racing around. I was very surprised to see a woman there whose husband had just died! She said, he wanted everything to go on as usual.
    Me too. Continuity. It is a Big Thing we are being deprived of.
    All best,
    ~ Abigail

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    1. That sounds so wonderful, Abigail!

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  2. BeeHappee says:

    Beautiful, your words, like black comedy, funny tragedy. See all the pluses in winter? You could mop the floor! When we are out all day in warmer weather, floor does not get mopped for months. Well, truthfully it does not get mopped for months in winter either. . . 🙂
    Pickled herring on rye, nice.
    I feel like I should read the teenager article, my daughter is 6, going on 17.
    Good luck with the book, Andrea! Looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah. Mopping of flow/doing the dishes/ organizing stuff… this gets done very very seldom during the busy spring and summer months!

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  3. DM says:

    Can’t wait to read more of your book on spirituality and how it fits into the context of the daily nitty gritty~! It is my favorite topic. Having navigated raising 4 of our babies into adult hood, what you touched on about the conflicting things going on in your heart as a parent are spot on. There were several word pictures I’ve used to communicate that experience for me…#1 as an eagle “stirs” the nest when it’s time to have their young learn to fly, so too, I was very intentional about not looking at my children as long term boarders..they were entrusted to us for a season…but there comes a point where they need go….(I can still see my youngest daughter sitting on the steps reading a book when she was maybe 3) she will turn 29 this June) Second word picture was that of a guide slashing my way through the Amazon Jungle w/ my wife and 4 children in tow. There was about 20 years there where I wasn’t sure where I was at, felt like I was flying blind most of the time…and exhausting emotionally and physically…then one day, wha-la..we popped out into the open, the kid’s had all pretty much grown up and moved out, and suddenly, I could relax. We’d made it. I was a changed man. Broken, yet still alive. There were some heavy duty marks that marriage and parenting left on my soul. As a carpenter I marvel at the home you guys have created. marvel.. you should be very proud! DM

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    1. smcasson says:

      I really enjoyed your perspective here. Thanks for the machete image. I have two under 4 now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those two images stuck with me too, thank you DM, I really appreciate your honesty and sharing!

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        1. DM says:

          thank you Andrea. I was thinking about you today as I started rereading Journey to the Center of the Earth. It mentioned Denmark in the story..and I was thinking that is in your neck of the woods.

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      2. DM says:

        Those were hard but good days for me. Takes a lot of energy just to keep up with them. You don’t realize just how much energy until after you are done. 🙂 DM

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  4. Olive says:

    I understand, this winter was extremely long and cold for us too. Regarding the parenting article, I see that her analysis only works for mainstream parents. We were fortunate enough to pull the kids out of school years ago, and have two teens and one about-to-be who love me. They ask for my company, input and time. They are loving and supportive and respectful because they have gotten plenty of love and patience and most of all respect. They dont need to rebel against us; they are encouraged and allowed to be exactly who or what they choose. They have been loved and supported. They include us in their lives….reading her article I felt sad for the other families who have lost that bond, and extremely grateful for having invested in us.

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    1. Abigail Higgins says:

      i hope it is okay to share a link here–

      have read several articles by Charles Eisenstein which impressed me. he addresses the values i am pursuing, and most likely, you andrea, and others who post here.
      our children are our message to the future. how they behave will tell who we were, to those who will never have known us while alive.
      the people whose lives as parents have been like an ordeal deserve compassion–it could have been for many reasons. recalling those who took it upon themselves to warn me about “the terrible two’s”, adolescents, or other “hellish” aspects of having children, they were well-meaning, but only revealed that their own experiences had been impoverished.
      time and the seasons are circular/cyclical in the natural world but linear in the human world. “the obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.” (don’t recall which wise person i am quoting here, but for me this is meaningful.)
      ~ a

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      1. It is VERY ok to share that video here- very appropiate and I love (most of) Charles´s work. I think “the space between stories” is a real clear concept and I think we, as a human race, is experincing such a moment right now…. I have high hopes for the children and I am truly happy that I had the time to give my children these experiences in the wild, I think they will be needed in the future, I think my children have learnt something very important, something that will be needed….

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    2. Well yeah, I think you are right, Olive- I couldn´t identify with how the girls would talk about their mothers but I DO think that what happens in adolence is children taking charge over their own story and thus also the family story, I DO think they reevaluate and rethink and make room for their own interpretations and I think this is very needed – but it is also a kind of sorrow… to “loose story” as a parent.
      I think however that this proces can be more or less smooth and I am very grateful too that I had the time to strengthen the bonds before the children got too big….

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  5. I can relate to the talk of winter because of my childhood in the MidWest. However, now that I live on the coast I am simply amazed. This month we sleep with the windows open and the garden has cool season crops growing like crazy. But don’t fell jealous of me. Nay! We will get our come-uppance in a month or two when it’s so hot you feel like you’re going to be sick and you’re stuck inside melting or sitting next to the air conditioner which is a necessity. Let’s Move! No, really, we are going to. It will be crazy hot and we’re still in a terrible drought. The governor asked for federal assistance because he knows what’s coming. You guys will be fighting off the insects but your gardens will be growing nicely with moisture and you can be outdoors any time of day. I will feel envy!

    Yes, chop wood, carry water. I look forward to your insights about spirituality on the homestead.

    Like

  6. Ahh, come on. It’s only march. That still is a semi-official wintermonth around here. Or at least a transitionmonth. The first years we lived here we had the same conditions a month later, freezing our butts off at walpurgis night.

    My oldest two have hit that wonderful age of puberty….. Oh, the joy… I’m sorry… did I sound sarcastic??
    I notice that both of them are starting to struggle with the conflicting information and views between the world out there and the world in here, between the official and commercially approved version and the rebellious and antimedia informed vision of their parents. We keep on giving them our attention, despite the fact that they regularly reject that and we still keep conversation and dialogue a part of everyday life, even if they retreat into themselves more often.

    And Nestlé seems to be busy pumping up water in the heart of California and selling it as bottled water… But then again they do not see water as an every man’s right, but as a resource to be commercially exploited. Hence an interview on youtube with the ceo of that company.

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  7. Bill says:

    …soon we will run out like escaping prisoners or wild goats, we will roll out to outside like a tsunami but not just yet.

    I love that image. There is a jailbreak on the horizon here too.

    I wonder if it’s even possible to live close to the land without being drawn to spiritual exploration. I like to swim in the deep end of the pool too. It seems to me that we’re hard-wired to yearn for an appreciation of transcendent things. It also seems to me that our increasingly material and technology-driven culture is trying to convince us that there is nothing to see there. I think your book is less an act of professional suicide than an act of defiance to the empire. Selfishly I’m hoping that it will be written in English.

    Like

    1. David says:

      “I wonder if it’s even possible to live close to the land without being drawn to spiritual exploration.”

      I suspect that the converse is also (to a large degree) true: For those whose relationship to the land is so distant, estranged, and technologically mediated, it may be close to impossible to be drawn to spiritual exploration. This would certainly account for the ongoing, and ever deepening, crisis of faith—and the steep rise in the rates of suicide and depression—in much of the contemporary West. The more we limit ourselves to technological process, the mechanistic worldview of Descartes and his ilk, and the relentless pursuit of efficiency, the harder it becomes to articulate the yearning for the spiritual.

      I, too, selfishly hope that the new book is in English, Andrea! I may not be far behind you on professional suicide, in pursuit of what is true, beautiful, and life-affirming.

      Like

  8. Phil Pogson says:

    ….maybe our collective inner spiritual state impacts the weather – maybe.

    Also, writing about your spirituality could hardly be professional suicide, especially if it positively impacts the minds and inner beings of so many.

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  9. ncfarmchick says:

    I very much believe in the concept of “the sacred in the mundane” (not sure where I read that but it was many moons ago. Though, many of the things described as mundane do not seem so to me. They are life. There is a reason so many people say they have their best thoughts when taking a shower or washing dishes. One thing I love about the advent of digital photography is its insertion into our daily lives. Yes, I do find some people to be too into taking pictures rather than living the moment. Some also seem to go to great lengths to create photo opportunities rather than just living. However, I think it is good people are documenting everyday life (or could be if that intention is there) rather than only having pictures made on special occasions. That capability makes it possible for us to recognize the sacredness of the everyday in an immediate way.
    I love Abigail’s comment above about nature being cyclical but humans try to live in a linear fashion. So true and the cause of much angst, I think, especially as many people’s linear orientation is behind rather than present or forward. The thought of you writing a book with a spiritual basis makes total sense to me and I look forward (hopefully!) to the opportunity to read it and anything else you write.

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    1. BeeHappee says:

      NC, you are so right. There are two sides to any technology, yes digital photography can get overwhelming and can also be a great enabler of creativity or a different vision of the world. Your comment reminded me of this Louie Schwartzberg video: Hidden miracles of the natural world. In my opinion, it is both beautiful, but also scary when humans overuse or misuse such technologies.

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  10. Annette says:

    …I really, really (really!) hope your book will be published in English…I can’t wait to give it a read!

    Like

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