Northern Light: Poetic Places & Spaces of Sweden
Sometimes you fall in love with light. You think it’s the person or the place you’re falling for, but in fact the light filters through a cloud or slants in through a window a certain way and there’s a subtle shift. Everything seems full of meaning.
When I think of places with special light I remember Venice. And London. And Greece. And California. Each one unique.
I haven’t been to Sweden yet, but I’m intrigued by its light.
Swedish interiors are pretty special, too. They’re not bright but they’re filled with cool light. Everything’s painted in soothing shades of white and beige, gray and blue.
Sweden is famous for its Northern Lights, which begin to appear in Sweden’s Magnetic North, in September.
(I saw the Northern Lights once. Every now and then an acceleration of solar flares makes them visible in a place you wouldn’t normally be able to see them. One night, I had been alone in a barn that was once a famous writer’s studio. I’d been praying. When I walked back out into the darkness, there it was – a thin haze of swirling green lights just above the horizon. It seemed like a good omen to me.)
In Sweden the Northern Lights can fill the entire sky
Inside Swedish houses there are simple pieces of furniture. Elegant clocks. Pale walls and rough wood floors. Just the right amount of edited ornamentation.
Swedish landscapes – and Swedish interiors – both suggest a kind of solitude to me.
I’m always drawn in.
Can’t you imagine yourself curled up in the corner of this settee, with a coffee, your copy of “Let The Right One In” and a slice of Swedish Princess cake?
Even the streets of Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city, seem to inspire introspection.
Scandinavia’s location on the map, means it’s been somewhat isolated from mainstream European culture. The local folk art and craftsmanship have influenced even the region’s modern design. From Ikea to the Scandinavian Modern furniture movement, simple, minimal and functional manages to stay charming as well.
Gustavian furniture – those timeless painted pieces we associate with vintage Swedish country houses – is restrained and elegant.
Meanwhile Sweden’s magical destinations provide lots of opportunites to get outside, reflect and enjoy nature.
Here’s one of the forest huts of Kolarbyn Eco Lodge about two hours from Stockholm where the proprietors brag, “…neither electricity nor running water (will) disturb your wilderness experience…” Are you ready to do it?
Yes that’s an enchanted hobbit -style hut in the forest. But in a Swedish country house, even a cupboard can seem magical. This one has a pop of blue inside and an integrated clock built into the side.
Sweden seems particularly good at creating destinations that are fully integrated into the environment, like these ‘igloos” created for maximum enjoyment of the Northern Lights at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
Back inside our Gustavian fantasy, a dry branch in a vase makes a colorful bouquet seem almost vulgar.
(Can you be a Classicist and a Minimalist at the same time? Maybe in Sweden…)
And for the ultimate Bucket List getaway, here’s Sweden’s famous Ice Hotel.
One day I’ll get there.
I won’t be alone, but I probably will be introspective. For a minute. Right before I become overwhelmed and giddy at the thought of actually being there!
I really wanted to find a Swedish poem to end my post with, but they all go dark pretty fast.
Those long, gray winters seem to have an affect on Swedish literature. All that introspection can lead directly to melancholy. I get it. But still I’d like to feel that Northern Light. At lease for a while.
But I did find this simple quote for Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking) that sums up the Sweden I see in pictures.
“…the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy…”
Have you ever been to Sweden? What was it like for you?