The Buddha in the Attic is a book by Julie Otsuka. Normally I would not consider doing a book review but it is the story of a group of Japanese woman who immigrate to America. It is not the story of one person but the story of a group of people and their journey as immigrants ending in exile. The book is like a Japanese painting, beautiful in its simplicity. With a few strokes of the pen I felt myself drawn in to this narrative.
I felt a connection to the story. I too have had my own fears, excitements and expectations about immigrating to a new country. Though I have not suffered the discrimination that these people did. I can easily pass unless I speak giving away that I do not speak Swedish. Reading the book was very thought provoking and has me thinking even more about the current debate of immigration in America. This book should be required reading for all the elected representatives of the House and the Senate.
People from all around arrive at the village before 10 a.m. paying their 10 kronor ($1.55) to enter the waiting area outside of the soccer field. As it gets closer to 10 more and more people arrive and you can feel the excitement in the air. No sooner and no later but at exactly one second before 10 a.m. there is this huge inhale of breath and it is as if all the air is sucked out of the space. Then the second hand moves and the moment it becomes 10 a.m. the stampede begins as people rush through the barrier tape. The ground vibrates and you can hear the swoosh as people run to their area of choice.
I find this fundraiser brilliant in so many ways. Just watching the market from beginning to end tells the story of the modern social construct of Sweden. It was like watching the scenes of a play where everything I had read or had been explained to me was acted out in a three act play.
In a world where we are so attached to things and find it difficult to let go of them, Köpinge village has build into its customs and rituals the mechanism of the annually purge of things. It is the annual renewal culminating the last Saturday in July where the old is discarded making room for the new. It is all dressed in the altruistic garb of raising money that goes towards their children. And in return their children are provided mentors and activities that are both beneficial to the individual and the community.
Many members of the community put in lots of time just to make this day happen. Some even take vacation in order to devote enough time. It becomes an event that binds the ties of the community together. Each year the community comes together again to make it happen. What a marvelous annual event.
(Note: This is the village that Vanim grew up in. His sister and brother and their families live there now and his mother plans on moving back there as soon as we have moved out on our own.)
|Maggie & Seth relaxing on the patio|
One thing I am am observing is that nothing in Sweden seems to be rushed. My person number arrived two weeks after applying for it. A person number would be similar to an American social security number. Once I had my person number I needed an ID card. I now am in the process of waiting between 5 to 10 business days for a letter to show up. Once that letter shows up I can return to the Tax Agency and pick up my ID card.
|relaxing at the beach in Åhus|
|Super Awesome Golf Stud|
|Just in case anyone wondered I won by some miracle|
|A view of the beach|
|enjoying the sun|
|enjoying the sun from the shade|
On Monday May 16th I spent the day on a bicycle. I passed through small towns and villages. I passed fields of lettuce, potatoes, canola, and wheat. I saw historical sights and archaeological sights. I enjoyed moments of sunny skies with little or no breeze and moments of cloudy skies and lots of wind. My legs were tired by the time I reached the island of Ivö, so the trip might have been a little over ambitious but it was well enjoyed and I am glad I did it.
The map below shows some of the points I saw along the way on my little adventure. If you enjoy riding bikes there is a lot one can do and see in Scania. I rode the train from Kristianstad to Bromölla. From Bromölla I rode my bike south around lake Ivösjön and then north between lake Ivösjön and lake Oppmannasjön. I then took the ferry over to the island of Ivö. After spending some time on Ivö I crossed back over on the ferry and headed south between the two lakes then headed south west and west until I arrived back home at Kristianstad.
View Bike Tour 16 July 2013 in a larger map
(taken from the information marker) The Archbishop’s Cellar is part of the solid stone house built by Andreas Sunesen. It was probably erected on the remains of a building from the 12th century on what is believed to be the donjon. In 1927 the farm building above the cellar was struck by lightening, but without damaging the cellar itself. In the mid 1930’s the cellar and the surrounding land was redeemed by the Scanian local Heritage Association. Durring excavation in 1938, the inner parts of the cellar and its outer walls were uncovered, laying bare the windows above ground A foundation wall then revealed that the cellar had been part of a larger group of buildings.
Through out the countryside there are numerous windmills. Because it was extremely windy I could hear these windmills from the road. Because there are so many windmills in Scania (Skåne) I would be interested to find out how much of Sweden’s power comes from windmills. Something for me to research.
All around Scania there are so many things to do and see. This is just a sample of one day on a bike and all that I was able to see. I could ride my bike in any direction and have just as varied experiences and even see different sights than I did this day. For any of you that love to ride your bike I would recommend a bike vacation in Skåne Sweden some summer.
|The last archbishop of Lund is buried here|
|behind the column is the original altar from 1123|
|Finn the Giant
the original face was cut off in one of the “restorations”
|Finn the Giant|
|Finn the Giant|
|Finn’s Wife and Child|
|Finn’s Wife and Child|
In the last week I have become more conscious of my relationship to the camera. I was at the Lund Cathedral when I started to take pictures. I began to feel as if the camera was interfering so I put it away. Without the camera between me and the cathedral my interaction and experience with the place started to chang. I began to have a much more intimate encounter with the cathedral.
A couple of days latter Heather Schaefer posted an article on Facebook from The Globe and Mail called Humanity takes millions of photos everyday. Why are most so forgettable? Ian Brown the author was an adjudicator of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival Photography Competition where this year for the first time in 18 years there would not be a winner. Of the more than 500 entries no one was able to present a visual story that the judges thought worthy of recognition. He quotes Conrad Habing one of his co-judges as saying the entrants “were trying to make up for a lack of vision with a bag of tricks” vision being defined as “a point of view that says something about yourself.” Another one of his co-judges said “people take photographs because they can, not because they should.” Ian Brown goes on to make some more interesting observations about photography. I would recommend reading the complete article.
I went back to Lund Cathedral today and took pictures this time. I will not stop taking pictures. This blog is as much a part of me as those of you who read it and I have had several request for pictures. What has changed though is that I am now more aware of the experiences I am having. Sometimes that means no camera.
In a blog post I read when I first started this blog titled 15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog by Joshua Becker reason number 3 was that you would live a more intentional life. “Once you start writing about your life and the thoughts that shape it, you.ll begin thinking more intentionally about who you are, who you are becoming and whether you like what you see or not.” I have certainly started to see that happening in my own life. My interaction with the camera and the world around me is just one of those more intentional interactions that are starting to reshape my life in more meaningful ways.