For summer 2016, we had planned to go to Estonia and Latvia with aunt and cousin. But first, we went to Marcus’ mother’s summer place in Västanfjärd in Finland, which is en route to the eastern European countries.

Sommarstuga, it’s called in Swedish. It’s a Swedish thing with old roots – to acquire a summer cottage.  Nowadays there are other alternatives to enjoying summer (for those who can afford), like a small garden house, or traveling, cycling and sailing.

Marcus’ mother’s sommarstuga consists of several cottages. Its previous owners were her parents. The summer place has been owned by the Lindströms since perhaps around 50 years.

Marcus’s mom is from Finland. She had lived together with her parents and siblings in the town of Dalsbruk. Later, when her parents had saved enough, they bought a summer place by the bay, Västanfjärdsviken, which goes out to the Baltic Sea. Her father built a cottage with his own hands, then added more through purchase.

Mother-in-law with aunt and cousin.

Mother-in-law with aunt and cousin.

Marcus’s mom’s loves this place. It reminds her very much of her parents. She travels three hours to get to Stockholm. From Stockholm, an overnight boat ride to Åbo (Turku in Finnish). And another hour car drive to get to the country cottage. She does this with her husband at least five times a year, living there for as long as they can.

Marcus loved his grandfather dearly. His granddad taught Marcus the names of plants and what they were used for, to not fear animals and respect nature, and to enjoy the simplicity of life. Life is abundant through nature.

Aunt enjoyed the blueberries in the family's forest patch.

Aunt enjoyed the blueberries in the family’s forest patch.

One time, when he was five years old, he got lost. He could’ve died in the cold, had he not been found before nightfall.

In the beginning, I never really understood this connection to the simplicity of wild nature. It’s a Swedish thing, especially among the old generation. But now, at 45, I finally understood. It’ anti-stress, nostalgia for the older simple days, it’s being far away from the madding crowd that dictates and enforces its preferences.

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Marcus’ mother built extra cottages for her children and grandchildren.

Tuwa loves this place. I haven’t visited for two years, and now I realise how naturally comfortable she feels in this wild forest by the waters. She is not afraid of snakes, legless lizards, toads and whatever she meets. She can even catch worms to catch fish herself.

It is cold there, even in summer. We, the Filipinos, laughed and complained about how cold it felt. The water is as cold as the water dispenser, according to my cousin.

Going to the toilet isn’t that easy. The family has two outhouses, or outdoor toilet – one old and one new, I prefer the newer one. It’s problematic to wake up in the middle of the night and go a few meters in the cold to reach the lonely outhouse. But at the same time, it feels oddly beautiful to see a moon (it was full moon when were there) looming over the pine trees, illuminating the forest.

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Since this visit, I feel that I like to stay there for a few days, drive or take the boat to the restaurant in the nearby Lamalla (to make  life easy) for food, and write my opus quietly (I hardly find time to write an opus, but let me dream on!) – while Marcus and Tuwa run around in the forest, or in the family’s little forest patch doing their back-to-nature activities.

My mother-in-law and her hubby were there when my aunt and cousin came. It felt to good to see both families meet and merge well.

More pics in the picture gallery above.

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