Järnforsen and Jan’s Lake House

In the morning Nancy and Judy were departing from the Nassjö train station for a trip to Denmark to visit Erstad, the birthplace of their maternal grandmother and her brother, the Danish sculpture artist Anders Bundgaard. They would also visit Copenhagen and see some of their great uncle Ander’s sculptures. We drove them to the train station a twenty-minute drive from Rödjenäs.

Jack, Lilly and Aron on the lawn of Hjalmar and Elsa’s home. The home is now owned and used as a summer home by Lars and Lillian Lövgren, Hjalmar’s son and wife.

Jack, Lilly and Aron on the lawn of Hjalmar and Elsa’s home. The home is now owned and used as a summer home by Lars and Lillian Lövgren, Hjalmar’s son and wife.

We had been invited by Dick Lövgren and Britt to join them at Dick and Jan’s grandparents’ house in Järnforsen, the town where we had eaten dinner with the cousins in a restaurant the night before. We loaded up Lilly and Jack while Aron drove the car we had borrowed from Jan the night before. The rental car GPS led us directly to the house that had been owned by Hjalmar and Elsa Löfgren. The cousins had grown up spending summers with their grandparents in this house.

Dick showed us the house, now owned by Hjalmar’s son Lars and wife Lillian, and all its treasures. It looked to be mostly undisturbed since Dick had spent summers here during his youth. He also showed us lovely photo albums of the family through the decades. Aron, Lilly and Jack enjoyed the lovely blooming yard and the spring day.

Britt-Marie Jaktmark walks away from the Järnforsen church, Järeda parish, where Daryl’s great grandfather, John Alfred Lefgren, was born and raised. Also home church of Klas Oskar Löfgren, John Alfred’s brother and his descendants.

Britt-Marie Jaktmark walks away from the Järnforsen church, Järeda parish, where Daryl’s great grandfather, John Alfed Lefgren , was born and raised. Also home church of Klas Oskar Löfgren, John Alfred’s brother and his descendants.

After we left the Järnforsen house, we went to the Järeda parish church prettily situated on the shore of the lake Järnsjön. This church was the church where Daryl’s great grandfather, John Alfred Lefgren, and Dick’s great grandfather, Klas Oskar Löfgren (brothers) had been baptized and attended until adulthood. Dick’s family still maintains the graves of Karl Oskar and Karolina and the grandparents, Hjalmar and Elsa. There were beautiful, delicate little blooming flowers on both graves. Lilly and Jack enjoyed walking on the lovely paths were Jack’s ancestors once walked.

The cousins gather outside Per and Lena’s summerhouse.

The cousins gather outside Per and Lena’s summerhouse.

Next we followed Dick and Britt in our car to Jan’s lake house. It was a complex route on the small dirt roads through the heavy forest. I don’t think we could have made it other than following Dick and Britt’s red Volvo. The lake house is on Lake Flen and the property was originally owned by Per and Jan’s father, Karl Erik Lövgren. Now Jan and Per each have cottages on the site. Jan’s house is a historic house that they moved from another location. Because the forest is so dense around their lot, they had to move the house in the winter across the ice of the frozen lake. Per’s house is newer and, I believe, was built on site. Per’s house has a porch that extends to within five feet of the lake. The family has built a large addition to Jan’s original historic house. The lovely addition is a large family room that has sliding doors to open it completely to the outdoors. On the roof are some large solar panels that are the only source of electricity. I believe they have propane gas as well. There are outdoor toilets. In the winter, if there is deep snow, they must park their cars several kilometers away and ski in.

Anne and Daryl brought Vikings t-shirts for the cousins. The Vikings is Daryl’s favorite pro football team. David took this photo and Erica posted it on Facebook.

Anne and Daryl brought Vikings t-shirts for the cousins. The Vikings is Daryl’s favorite pro football team. David took this photo and Erica posted it on Facebook.

Jan’s wife, Bodil, was busy cooking sausages and hamburgers when we arrived. The delicious lunch was served in the family room, buffet style. We sat around the table or on couches and chairs or on the steps outdoors. We had the opportunity to have casual conversations and get to know the Lövgrens better. After dinner, Daryl presented the cousins with Minnesota Vikings t-shirts. Aron, Lilly, Jack and we were all wearing our shirts. The Vikings is Daryl’s favorite NFL team. They seemed to be a hit. Lilly had brought special pecan pies from Texas that she presented to Bodil.

Third cousins Daryl and Victoria Lövgren. She is Daryl’s youngest cousin from Hjalmar’s grandchildren. Daryl is older than the oldest, Dick. Daryl’s great grandfather, John Alfred, had a 10-year head start on their great grandfather, Klas Oskar.

Third cousins Daryl and Victoria Lövgren. She is Daryl’s youngest cousin from Hjalmar’s grandchildren. Daryl is older than the oldest, Dick. Daryl’s great grandfather, John Alfred, had a 10-year head start on their great grandfather, Klas Oskar.

A little later another cousin arrived whom we had not met. She was Victoria Lövgren, youngest daughter of Hjalmar’s youngest offspring, Sven. Victoria is married to Ram Arvidsson and they have a (then) two-year-old son, Adam. Adam and Jack are almost exactly the same age, explaining the wagon and hammock at Sven’s Ryd summerhouse. Jack and Adam played beside each other with trucks in the sand near the lakeshore. Sven and Else-Marie were also there.

Imagine our surprise to discover Scottish highland cattle as we were driving home.

Imagine our surprise to discover Scottish highland cattle as we were driving home.

The experience this afternoon was uplifting. The informal atmosphere, so easy to talk and get to know each other, was a wonderful episode in our visit. When we drove away, we were happy to be in touch with the Swedish experience. Our GPS took us on a circuitous route through forest, countryside and small villages. Flowers and trees were at the height of beauty, a lush northern rainforest. We happened upon a herd of Scottish highland cattle, a breed Lilly loves to call “hairy cows.” We had first experienced them in Scotland when we visited Aron and Lilly while they were living in Oxford, UK, in 2008. Next to the cattle, an adjacent field had four kinds of wildflowers: Queen Anne’s Lace, Sweet William, Fire weed and some yellow daisy-like flowers. Fabulous. The little village we saw had perfectly maintained wooden houses built in unknown previous centuries.