Sunday, August 28, 2011

From the woods of Småland

In the Southern third of Sweden lies Småland. A large county, not very populated, where you can drive for miles through the forest without encountering anyone. A small red cottage might appear but you are almost more likely to see deer or moose than people unless you are closer to the cities.
Still, Småland is the origin of a few world famous institutions, such as IKEA, and it's also the birthplace of Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking and dozens of other amazing children's book characters.

In this area my brother and his family have a summer house. Originally a smaller farmstead, now a another farmer owns the land around their immediate property, and they get to enjoy the absolutely stunning surroundings, in total peace and seclusion. The trip to Småland was as usual one high point during my entire Sweden trip, not the least because my children got to play with their cousins from morning til night.

Here is the house, seen from the cow's meadow. Those cows don't know how good of a life they had - a few days before we arrived they had broken a piece of the wooden fence and escaped! But all they did was to walk the road back to their barn, and that's where the farmer decided to keep them until he had time to fix the fence.

This is the view from my window.

In the morning, the Nässelfjäril (Aglais urticae) basked in the sun warmed barn wall. I don't know if this one exists in the Americas as well. Here it is very common and always so pretty.

 Scabiosa, one of the common wildflowers here. A great butterfly and bee magnet.

Have yet to learn the name of this one but it was very delicate and beautiful. It's visiting a flower that at least in England is called Ladies Bedstraw.

Raspberries are gone wild.

A tiny tiny frog. I had no idea we had that kind of frogs in Sweden until my son found one.

The frog ended up in a jar until we could convince my son to let him loose again.

And the woods! A bit of this resides in the heart of all Swedes, I think!

Wild, delicious cherries.

More woods - tall pines and spruces swaying in the gentle winds.

Blueberries! Blue through and through.

Some blueberries were turning crimson already.

A familiar sight from New England - but it's no invasive here. Common Buckthorn is at home here as is the Glossy Buckthorn shrub. In fact it's host plant to the caterpillars of a lovely lemon colored butterfly. I think that if we have to have the shrub wreaking havoc in American woods, we might as well import the butterfly too.

Rönn is a very common small tree, with loads of bright red-orange fruits brightening up the woods. It's in the Sorbus family and in England it's called Rowan. In the US it's one of several that is called Mountain Ash. The berries are red, but needs a long time to ripen completely and taste better after a bit of frost. It's quite common to make a delicious jelly to eat with meats, and of course it's a staple food for wild birds and animals during winter months.

A single smultron, or Alpine Strawberry, is still showing. Earlier in the summer we pick them in masses - best to eat right away, not really for saving.

Blooming heather creates soft airy mounds.

Lichens thrive on all old branches

And the lingonberries are also ready.

Seems like the rest of Småland will have to appear in another post. I'm exhausted today after Hurricane Irene went pass town and am glad that my first hurricane experience is over.

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