If you find yourself fortunate enough to have a Swedish friend with a wonderful family who invites you over to their summer cottage - take the opportunity immediately. Because man oh man, if you don't, you'd be missing an opportunity of a lifetime.
For obvious reasons, I imagined Swedish summer cottages being very much of the status of Finnish summer cottages - that is, they are a place to escape the hectic "city life" and enjoy the fruits of nature. You grow your own produce, fish if you happen to have a body of water nearby, and otherwise enjoy the short-lived beauty of summer weather that exists here in the north. Except that unlike in Finland, the Swedish have eternally better weather...and their summer houses are actually large...and have electricity...and people actually live in them year-round. Crucial differences in seems. But whatever, who's splitting hairs anyway. ;)
When Sweden told me that her parents were living in their summer cottage for the summer and had invited me to dinner I was absolutely thrilled. The notion is incredibly sweet and one that I would never have expected. Something that I am learning about the world - people are more wonderful than you could ever imagine (don't listen to everything you see or read on the news...it's not what most people are like...learn to trust again...the world really is that beautiful, and so are the people in it).
They accepted me with warm, open arms, and I was invited into their home as though I had always been there. Had always been part of their family, just gone away somewhere and was returning.
And boy, is their home gorgeous.
This is one of those few times where I wish I had a good camera to capture the beauty of a space that I cannot put into words. A home that was built with generations (literally) of love, memories, and the happiness of a family that does nothing but make wonderful memories in its spaces.
Here are some inadequate photos of it:
The house from the back, down a little hill. When the weather is good they eat at a large table with benches on the back deck and eat in the sunshine. It's a gorgeous area. The area I am standing in leads to their dock, where they have a little boat they can take out onto the water. Hilariously this is the only dock for a little ways around so their neighbors also use it. It has a little diving board for swimming as well.
A view of the water that you can see from their backyard. Gorgeous view. The air is clean and fresh.
Another view of the water from the backyard. As you can see they're sort of on the side of a hill, so the views are pretty expansive. The body of water is also quite large (not sure what type of body of water, didn't bother to ask). Their little boat must go pretty far.
Views from inside the house. An Apartment Therapy dream of interior decorating and atmosphere. Everything is sweet, warm, and cozy. The first two photos are from the old sections of the house (i.e. the first sections of the house built from the older generation), and the last photo is from the newer section of the house, which was added on later when the house was expanded.
View from the white bedroom's balcony. Almost all of the bedrooms have views like this since very few (if any of them) face the front of the house. The master bedroom has the best view of course, but I refused to take pictures of such a private place.
After my tour of the house they plied me with amazing homemade food. We had homegrown salad of butter lettuce, arugula, bell peppers, feta cheese, tomatoes, and homemade salad dressing. Followed by homegrown nu (new?) potatoes - they are these absolutely adorable little potatoes that are a special treat during the summer...all of my expat friends rave about them...and they are fantastically delicious. Homemade ovenroasted bell pepper relish and bernaise sauces. And steak. Glorious glorious steak. Cooked to absolute perfection because Sweden's mom insisted on knowing my preferences and refused to accept that I was fine with eating whatever style they were fine with (apparently Sweden had already told them beforehand that I love absolutely rare, basically blue steak...and this little fact made it to her mom before I could help it). It was divine.
We all drank sparkling water, red wine, and beer, and conversation was lively and wonderful all around. It was a full group that night - Sweden, her parents, sister, her sister's friend, and me, the strange addition to the family who was welcomed.
After dinner we had homemade berry dessert. I don't know what it's called exactly, but it was sort of like an icecream that had been frozen into a log shape and covered in berries. Delicious, whatever it was, and refreshing. Sweden's mom was saying it was supposed to be elderberry flavored but we all realized about one bite in that this must have been another one because it tasted like vanilla. Wonderful, either way.
A little while later, after some clean up, Sweden's parents took leave of us and left us kids to our conversation. They set out a trio of amazing cheeses (a brie, bleu, and hard cheese) and left us with the remaining red wine. Conversation flourished for another several hours before we decided to pack it up and head back to the city (a convenient half an hour drive away).
Welcomed back anytime I was in Stockhom, this is an experience I will never forget. It seems I have a third family in Sweden. :) And how wonderful it is.