Today’s guest writer combines two of our favorite things – beautiful photography and Scandinavia. Here is Blanca Linder’s life in Sweden through the lens of her camera:
This is a brief glimpse into the world and life memories of young Nordic-rooted soul. If home is where the heart is; I inhabit the Stockholm city streets, dreamy southern woods and the beautifully reclusive mountain valleys of the north.
1. The mountain range of Sylarna, Northern Sweden
My parents used to say I was born on skis. Three weeks old, they dragged me with them up to the Swedish north; and they didn’t leave me behind on their mountain adventures… Ever since, we’ve returned at different times of year, either to spend a week by the downhill slopes, or make our way through valleys and mountaintops the cross country way, trying to outrun nightfall… There’s something so secretly magnificent about the northern sun; there’s either too much of it – in summer it merely brushes the horizon for an hour or two before it dawns again, or it escapes almost completely; as it does in winter. Immerse in it fully when you can, and imagine the candles to be small pieces of sunlight when you miss it too dearly.
2. Woods in the little town of Tranås, mid-southern Sweden
The always-haunting darkness of Scandinavian winters is both a burden and a gift; whilst there’s something confusing and life-shifting about the dark falling at 3pm, there’s nothing that better sets the mood for a cosy evening by the fireplace than a pitch black but starry sky, and moon-lit snow… During these months of dark and a harsh temperature of -20°C (-5°F), us Vikings of the north have our methods of making it through in high spirits, something my childhood winters were successful in maintaining. In these woods, in the heart of Sweden, I have memories consisting of everything in between snowball fights and early Christmas morning strolls. When everything is black; you start seeing all the vague colours, appreciate the small things. To me, it was and still is spending time with my family and friends as often as I can, staying creative, and ultimately, looking forward. There are good things to come.
3. Lake Sommen in Tranås
And here comes the light; the light after the seemingly endless tunnel that is spring. As our world returns more lively and bright, simultaneously do people, and with the melting snow, the fear of stumbling in the dark disappears. Every spring has changed in contrast to the foregoing, and will differ to the next. But precious memories of places such as this remain, safe and ceaseless.
4. Stockholm. This is where I live, amid the archipelago
Now that early spring quickly becomes a late day in May, the faces you see aren’t those of cold strangers… They’re those of potential friends, ready to whisk you away in an instant some place where the only musts are wine and dancing. The early evening skies hold onto the colours longer and longer and we smile with the sun.
This particular evening was spent on our little jetty, with a heap of blankets and company as good as the view.
5. Gotland, Sweden’s biggest separate island
Throughout my Scandinavian summers, there’s hardly an escape that has been sweeter than the visits to Gotland. The island is full of the kind of Nordic beauty that you really can’t find anywhere else – this is not only referring to the lovely lady in the photograph. We grabbed our bikes, let our minds fly away with the sky and sea merging into one. The days were endless and only stopped when we decided to drop our rides for however long we liked, often for an evening underneath the pink and blue, never darkening night.
6. The view of Sandhamn, an island in the Stockholm archipelago, seen from the family sailboat
If there’s one thing and one thing only that could be briefly summarized as the essence of my Swedish childhood summers, it’s our weeks on the boat. Endless stretches of sea, no set course and chasing the horizon, I would learn how to steer whilst watching my younger sister and brother play on deck or under, always up to different sorts of naval mischief. We would sail for as long as we could, land at natural harbours and explore the islands… And of course, eat “emergency provision” in the form of chocolate biscuits, when Captain Dad or Sailor Mum let us.
7. Quintessence of Stockholm’s “Söder” (meaning South); a street called Götgatan
8. Rhe “Slussen” station in the background, and spotted far behind, the harbor
9. Rainy day & beautiful alleyway leading off Götgatan
10. Shot of me in one of Beyond Retro’s mirrors; an often visited vintage store
This is my Stockholm. The beautiful, picturesque, cobblestoned streets; the stretch of water distinguishing south from north. The way you can walk through Gamla Stan – Ancient Town – and seep in eight hundred year old history seeming so deeply rooted in the narrow alleys and quaint house adornments, that it’s tangible – the remnants of all those souls before you, struggling when only the royal could eat their fill, frozen in time and space. I love the cultural aspect of my city, how art, cafés, music and nightlife mingles with each other and becomes what is typically “Stockholm”. Swedish second hand stores, photographic galleries, restaurants that sell both ecological carrots and vintage dresses.
Finally, it is vital I explain the term “fika”, since it is the thing most Stockholm there is. Being both a verb and a noun, “to have a fika”, or simply “to fika”, is the weekly act of Stockholmers meeting over coffee and talking about anything and everything under the sun. If you ever visit, you’ll find me with a notebook close by and coffee in hand at a southern café, or strolling down Götgatan, often singing, with a friend. Whatever happens, I will always have Stockholm.