The waves push out the last of the thin morning ice that accumulates like a thin wafer during the April nights. The sun melts down the morning chill and wills the greenness to rise from the flowerbeds. The shapes of the tender leaves rising from the soil remind me of the plants that will be there, tall, mature and colorful with flowers, during the summer. The birds take off and land, delighting in the new fluidity of nature. There is motion and color after stillness and white. The balance of aesthetics between the seasons is perfect. There is nothing we can create that likens it. All we can do to experience it is to be a part of it. This thought is so obvious that we easily forget it as we observe nature, conserve nature and try to ensure its sustainability.
Returning to my summer island in the spring brings me back to being a part of it. There is something about living in or near the city that makes one an observer of nature rather than a participant. Nature is in museums and zoos. Out on the pavement there are only cement and cigarette butts. Just the other evening, while visiting friends in the center of town, I struggled to find a tuft of grass for Ellie the dog to pee on. We wandered block after block in the supposedly green city of Stockholm, but failed to find anything but a small patch of brown. This happened to be the new neighborhood plantings (although this was not obvious to the naked eye), and neighborhood watch soon screamed out her window that we were tramping on the neighborhood farm. Sometimes I find that the city makes people get angry about green. It is an unfortunate fact that humankind becomes militant when resources are lacking. Ellie and I walked away from the patch of brown quietly. We hadn’t noticed a single shoot. Only cigarette butts. More power to the people who want to green our cities.
Out here in the boondocks, we’ve been very ecological this Easter. Septic tanks need taking care of and roses need fertilizing. Roses are beautiful things with a vile appetite for stuff that smells bad and has a consistency that doesn’t make most people feel well. In fact, most things that grow have this sort of vile appetite and preference for the mushy. Our modern visions of ecological lifestyles – brown paper labels in clean ‘green’ shops – put a smooth veneer on what ecological living actually is. Ellie runs into the kitchen from the garden, snout and paws covered in dirt, and jumps up on my trousers to catch my attention. Now I have brown paw marks on my trousers. Nothing to bother about. This is the very essence of ecological living.
Today it is Easter Sunday. I wasn’t raised in any particular religion, although with many of them around me. Despite this, Easter Sunday on this island is special to me. It is the day when I find the time to notice the power of the shoots and the sap rising in the birch trees. The green Buddha on my window sill strikes me as the perfect symbol of what I experience here: the perfect balance of everything that simply is.
Learn more about Julie Lindahl’s prize-winning new book, “Rose in the Sand,” a memoir of a decade lived on a Swedish island. Order it now from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk , Author House, authorhouse.co.uk and many other online bookstores. Learn more about Julie’s other books and activities at www.julielindahl.com.