As the rugged coastline gave way to lumbering pines, densely tucked into rolling hills, I was overcome with the feeling that I have been in this place called Sweden, many times.
This was my first physical trip to Sweden but during our time in this familiar country these past few weeks, it became clear to me why my ancestors felt at home in the Pacific Northwest.
As we boarded the ferry to the Island of Grinda in Stockholm’s Archipelago, a familiarity washed over me unlike anything I have experienced since we left on this trip. I felt like I was on my way to Orcas or Lopez in the San Juan Islands, as I have been countless times in my life. The smell of sweet hay cut by the chiseled rock and thirsty madrone trees, beckoned me home. It was such a gift in this faraway place to feel those comforts.
Scandinavian practices were woven throughout my childhood. Growing up in Seattle surrounded by my Swedish and Norwegian relatives defined my experience in many ways. I will never forget getting my first pair of Hush Puppies at Nordstrom or the many fancy, steaming bowls of soup consumed with my grandmother at the downtown Frederick and Nelson’s. I was born at Swedish hospital and gave birth to my daughter in the same wing. Trips to Sluey’s Bakery in Poulsbo started when I was a toddler and my kids requested a trip there for sticky buns, the day before we left on this trip over a year ago.
Making the rounds to Ballard delis for lefse, rullepølse, and potato sausage were part of every holiday season as we celebrated Dopp i Gryta (dip in a pot) growing up. A steaming cup of glögg (non-alchoholic version) with my grandmother’s braided saffron bread, is still my favorite memory of comfort food.
In this shrinking world, each country brings the past forward and inspires us, embraced by our heritage, to venture further and to experience more.