Ellie the dog and I trundled down the path with the contributions to the evening “knytis” at the beautiful mansion on the hill overlooking Lake Mälar. For those of you who do not know it, a “knytis” is a lovely Swedish term for a potluck dinner which translates more directly as “a little knot.” It was tricky balancing the basil and orange salad with Ellie’s need to explore the high grass, but after some time I managed to convince her that the dirt path leading through our magical settlement originating in the 18th century could be OK.
The soft summer breeze caught my wide, sailor-style white cotton trousers and called my attention to the fact that I was dressed like Lauren Bacall on a casual summer evening with her artist friends in the 1940s. It is funny the way that a piece of clothing can transport one’s thoughts through time and personalities. The small gatherings of friends in their magical gardens here and there upped the feeling of living in another time. I was beginning to think that people’s schedules didn’t allow for this sort of thing any more, but here they were, and my faith in the transformational powers of humanity was restored, once again.
As we arrived at my artist friends’ beautiful home on the hill, we noticed the party was gathered in the clearing to the right of the house. Here, we entered into a mood that was distinctly 1970s. People reminisced about revolutionary urges and the rejection of convention. I had been a young child in those days and admitted that my memory of that time was my third grade teacher, who sported a gigantic afro and beard (one saw very little of his face) and started our classroom days with Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” having smoked a joint or two. I find that the spirit of that time is coming back to us again, as young people awaken to the mess that the older generation has left behind on this planet. One young man told me he was going to spend a month in the forest this summer, living close to the earth, with thousands of others who are choosing to do the same thing.
The “knytis” was a wonderful success. A long table was heavily laden with all of the dishes and delicacies one could possibly desire. No one had co-ordinated their contributions. The buffet seemed a perfect example of the strange and unique order that can emerge spontaneously out of total chaos. Since most appeared to be vegetarians, Ellie enjoyed the meatballs.
As the sun moved westward, the group shifted towards the gazebo overlooking Lake Mälar. Ellie and I wandered down to the waterfront and found a woman meditating naked on the dock. A few minutes later, when we had hurried back up the hill, so as not to interrupt pure thoughts, we heard the most beautiful, seeking cry come from this very same woman. She hurled out her arresting voice across the surface of the lake and sang to the sun. No one moved. My thoughts were cast back into a primal time, when man’s needs had been basic and song was uncluttered. Perhaps we were in the Stone Age or further back somewhere on the timeline of all life.
I wandered home, the sensuous feeling of no time all over me. The garden parties had gone inside and all that was left was the sounds of the night. As we approached Midsummer, the birds seemed never to stop singing, as true darkness never came. I stood in the garden and listened one more time before closing the door for the night. The world was full of the most extraordinary things.
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