After we got here I´ve seen deer, wild boar, fox, (shadow of) elk, lots of squirrels and lots of monogamous birds.
The wildlife is so rich and the forest so plentiful that I swear to gods and I cry; thank you for this bounty.
Crawling through the underwood, sometimes on two legs, sometimes on four, mosquito buzzing around my head, ant biting my wrist, blood red hands from the wild blueberry, I am swollen with gratitude.
Alive. Breathing. Animal self (I know what that means now).
They came to our cabin to take down all of the trees around us, with their machines and their hard eyes but there’s more to it, of course, some of it I can’t share with you because of the kids (there’s a gender issue hiding somewhere here)
War has been ravaging the lands for many years, truth is; you can’t run from it. One day war will knock on your door and even if you don’t want to fight you may need to. Afterwards you may bleed.
Another truth: community is hard, roles can stick to you like big black snails.
Didn’t make it easier that we had positioned ourselves, been so open, blogged, invited so many strangers into our home.
Enough of all that.
The move came and had been underway for a long time.
Flexibility has become a key factor in our life since we moved into the wild- we’ve had to adapt. Constantly.
Adaptation means breaking down your own emotional walls, it also means being able and willing to change, not only inner circumstances but outer as well. Constantly.
(remember those last loaded posts; that was the sound of me breaking, that was my armour finally, finally crumbling. Not a pretty process. Needed to be done)
Five years ago we arrived with all of our high hopes and belongings to a small river valley in Varmland, Sweden. We settled under a tarpaulin tepee and began the hard work: to build our own log cabin, to rewild ourselves, to become whole as a (broken) family, to learn, to live good and prosper.
Winter came and our log cabin wasn´t finished which was the first of many failures and defeats to come. Next year we relocated (cold seeps downwards, don’t settle in a river valley) and began constructing yet another log cabin (there was a hand dug well and the soil had been cultivated a hundred years ago= less rocks, better soil)
Growing food, tending to animals, being a family of six people, living on a construction site- the first many years were very hard but we got the second log cabin built and moved in. That first night in that log cabin, that victory… will stay with me forever.
Then I got sick. My body collapsed. I was sick for a whole year, slave bound to my bed almost all of the time. High on morphine.
Then the older kids moved away from home, out in the world to live free and prosper, to get their educations, to drink beer with friends, to manifest themselves as individuals in the world.
I´ve been a mother since I was 19. We had finally succeeded in becoming a flock, we had finally achieved what we wanted… two seconds before they moved away from home (childhood has a deadline, it’s the coldest truth of them all)
Then came the war and we were under vicious attack (you´re not paranoid if you’re being followed), had to cover all of our flanks, realizing how vulnerable we are, one is, as soon as one does something DIFFERENT. What is life and logic to you might be used against you when the enemy takes you to court.
I told you I was a viking warrior.
I’ll do what needs to be done.
Raven banner, wild howl, glistening sword and I win, I always do, don´t I?
When running into the wild you can’t expect to live as a tree hugging hippie all of the time, sometimes you need the kill to survive. War paint. Chest bump. Maybe you won’t need to fight as hard as we did – we had the whole “public opinion” to deal with too. Plus our apparantly annoying personalities. Plus enemies (there might be a gender issue hiding somewhere here)
No matter what but especially in the Scandinavian countries though- you’ll need to fight for your right to leave…. the status quo, the perceived sense of community.
It´s an element of the experience that needs to be addressed when talking about living differently, rewilding our souls, I´ve said it a hundred times already: it’s not pretty.
It’s so devastating.
I´ll let it go.
I´ll let it go now.
The other day we were watching a tv series (on the computer, hard disk full of survival/bushcraft series) (most of the kids are home right now). Afterwards we began talking about how much of the things from the shows we already knew. We knew about the plants and the herbs and the trackings and the survival. Such a relief. It’s been five years- but it was only yesterday I fully realized how much we know, how much we’ve learned. “We´d last a lot longer than those people”, “I´d like to go full survival again” said the kids who are no longer kids.
One of the hardest things about living in the wild has not been nature though it´s been other people. Community. Relations. Me, blogging, being in the media, meant that we got a lot more or less invited guests. People settled in the woods around us. You become trapped in your own ideology, you become trapped in your own story.
Shake it off.
Shake it off.
Living in the wild means being able to ADAPT.
Imposed continuity and demands for you being able to explain and defend every little detail and choice in your life (ask yourself: can you answer all of the question you’d ask me?)- meant that I had created these very stern images and stories, I had to, explanations, justifications but this is who I am:
“Do I contradict myself?
Then I contradict myself.
I am large. I contain multitudes”
(this is another element of alternative lifestyles that I think needs to be addressed; it is demanded of us that we create these bulletproof storylines and brands. Brands don’t change or contradict themselves)
(also I don’t want to be a brand)
(which is difficult because I need the money)
(which means that I´ll need to not need the money)
(which I do) (freedom is achieved through lowering your living standards)
One day, up in Varmland, he said: “I have noticed how hard it is for you to be the one hunting for money. Let me hunt for money for a couple of years, then you can be the one building house and foraging”
In order for him to hunt for money we need to be a little bit closer to where the game is.
That´s one the reasons.
Another reason is the children. Closer to them, with all of their educations and wild travellings around the world. Also: break the story, shake the tree. If we are to be the movement of resistance (and we are) we need to regroup and reconsider our methods (and we do).
Truth: the wild is not wild anymore, they’re growing the trees just like they grow barley, it´s not a forest, it´s a field. Realize the scope of this. Wild hardly exists anymore.
Closer to the motherland and closer to people they don´t take down the trees, the forests are privately owned and not used commercially, the trees are old here, in my garden there’s a willow and I think it´s five hundred years old. The biodiversity is greater here, absurdly enough. Beech, hazel, oak, elderberry, aspen. I forage, never had a pantry this stocked before, and we’ve not even been gardening this season.
We’ve rented a small farmhouse from the 1800 hundreds, there’s a barn and a boat and many acres of woodland all to ourselves. Deer. Wild boar. Foxes. Apples. Hazelnuts. Berries in almost obscene amounts. A bit warmer winters. A bit longer summers. Self Sufficiency will be so much easier here.
I sit and I look at the black lake for hours a day. I try to make sense of the last five years. I try to make sense of the now. Try to make sense of the change.
I am no longer the same person as I were five years ago. Deep down I think that’s what I wanted the most.
I wanted to change.
Also I found happiness. Shivering atoms. I’m as free as I ever will be.