The magical world of the forest in Sweden
My local forest during the last days of winter 2011
I’ve always loved walking through the forest and being dwarfed by huge trees. Someone once said that being amongst huge trees mimics how you felt when you were a baby. Well I don’t know about that. I just love being able to lose myself in the smells and sights and colours of the forest. At the moment the snow has almost gone and the birds have arrived in increasing numbers to partake of their regular diets of insects and seeds which were covered up during the chilly, white winter. You can see the woodpeckers high up in the pine canopies. You can hear the repetitive banging on the wood but that’s almost the only sound. It’s just so peaceful. And you can walk around now on the soft padding of pine needles with not a care in the world in the forest. Unlike in Australia.
In Sweden more than half of the country is covered in forests. 5 minutes walk from our place is a large forest which runs through 4 districts. It includes a few farms which thanks to the Swedish ‘right to roam’ you can walk through. Everyone has the right to access all land in Sweden, apart from the immediate surroundings of a house or farm. I think it’s great. Don’t know what the farmers think.
There’s quite a bit of Swedish folklore relating to supernatural creatures that dwell in the forest such as the trolls. Evil little creatures according to myth. Though I’m sure they’re only evil to protect the forest from the wicked ways of humans. On the other end of the beauty spectrum is Näcken, a handsome naked man playing his fiddle in the middle of the gushing streams. Supposedly it’s best to stay away from him.
Everybody's heard of the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the evil wolf. It gave me and many a child nightmares and seemed to start this whole forest is scary and evil theme for many of us. It’s not true.
A Swedish poem describing the simple beauties of the forest.
by Bo Setterlind
from tree to tree
flies the morning breeze.
stands the sky-blue forest.
Birds are singing,
from their sleepy nests.
their journey done.
So, still in life there’s beauty
The sun’s aglow
within a drop of gold.
And the original Swedish:
från träd till träd
den himmelsblåa skogen.
ur sina bäddar.
Så är livet ändå skönt
i en droppe kåda.