Barbro and Åke take us to Eksjö

Barbro and Åke Bogelius drove from their home in Hasslösa and arrived about 11:00 a.m. It is always so fun to meet people in person you have gotten to know well by exchanging emails. Barbro seemed to me to be as we expected—sweet and thoughtful, somewhat reserved but bubbling with sincere emotion. Åke was a model of the perfect helpmate, reserved but with a dry sense of humor and seemingly infinite patience. He is a map buff and was brilliant at finding the locations of where Daryl’s ancestors lived.

They arrived with gifts of food. There were sausages, ham, crackers, bread, fresh vegetables, muesli, buttermilk, butter in a tub, homemade banana bread and boxes of wine. Daryl and I had tried to buy wine in the grocery store the previous day and had ended up with some nonalcoholic wine and a winemaking kit. (Since the labels were in Swedish, we didn’t know.) It took us at least a week to figure out how to buy wine at the government liquor store in nearby Nässjö.

Cream, citrus and red paint. New paving stones on the street but old cobblestones against the houses. Onion dome atop the church.

Cream, citrus and red paint. New paving stones on the street but old cobblestones against the houses. Onion dome atop the church.

After lunch the four of us drove to Eksjö. Jan Lövgren commented that Eksjö means “Oak Lake” and that its pronunciation is difficult, sounding something like coughing and spitting. Eksjö is famous in Sweden as “The Wooden City.” It is in an area of Sweden covered by dense forests and many cities in this region were originally constructed primarily of wood. Fires in the 1800’s destroyed many of the wooden cities but half of Eksjö has survived. The citizens managed to make a fire break by tearing down part of a building. Some of these buildings date from the latter half of the 1500’s. The buildings are deep red, cream or citrus colored. The cobblestones are worn smooth and kind to the feet. This city has never industrialized, so there are almost no modern buildings and population growth has been moderate.

Daryl studies the construction of a very old building.

Daryl studies the construction of a very old building.

We wandered the streets admiring the centuries old timber construction. Daryl, who is a construction engineer and had once built himself an enormous log house in Alaska, was fascinated with the old wood building methods used in Sweden. We ended up in a lovely garden square surrounded by museums and housing. Barbro showed me a plant that had caught the rain or dew in a perfectly faceted crystalline shape.

We prepare dinner on our first evening together.

We prepare dinner on our first evening together.

Later we returned to our house at Rödjenäs. We all four went to the kitchen and prepared dinner as if we had practiced cooking together many times. We shared our meal on the back deck and enjoyed the long daylight hours made possible at the 57th parallel. Even after we had finally gone to bed, the twilight seemed to persist until dawn.