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2022 Jul

Your Wild Strawberry Place

Take a mini-escape from the busy-ness of life. Here’s how.

Most of us can name one place in our lives we return to again and again, a place that doesn’t change even though our lives are always changing. Maybe it’s a special hideaway in nature that makes you feel grounded. My brother calls his secret nature spot the “wild strawberry place.” It’s a meadow not far from his home in Sweden. He often bikes on a trail nearby and stops in his special place to lie in the tall grass, watch the clouds drift by, and find peace.

In fact, one place that I love, because it never changes, is my brother’s home in southern Sweden. I’ve been visiting him and his wife there for forty years—ever since the first summer I traveled to Europe with my mom. The house and barns form a U-shape, as many homesteads in Sweden do, facing south to capture as much light and warmth year round as possible. The buildings are surrounded by rolling fields, and clusters of trees mark the other small farms tucked into the hills.

Ever since I’ve been visiting Dick, very little has changed. No gas stations or convenience stores have been built on the corner, no housing developments have encroached on the bucolic landscape. The view of the Baltic Sea about five miles from his house hasn’t changed. Only some of the trees have grown taller or been chopped down. His home is a lovely place, although as you can imagine winters can be harsh with long nights and occasional blizzards making their long driveway impassable for days.

One change that recently took place is my brother and his wife have replaced the old pig sty opposite their house with a beautiful guesthouse they are renting on Airbnb. It’s booked occasionally, but Dick and his wife built it mainly so they can have a spacious place for their kids and grandkids (and family members like me) to stay. Even though it’s a new addition to their beautiful home, the guesthouse feels like it’s always been there. Nothing really changes.

That’s why I love visiting Dick and Nilla’s little slice of paradise. Since I started visiting them, Peter and I got married, lived in five houses, had four kids and one grandchild, lost loved ones, changed careers, and watched so many things change in our region that it’s hard to even remember the little resort town I moved to years ago when I was 10.

As a Greek philosopher once said, the only constant in life is change. But isn’t it nice to find yourself in a place that’s remained the same since you first saw it. If you think a moment, you can probably come up with a cozy place that you love that never changes. It’s almost as if when we go there, we are getting in touch with the person we were when we first saw it. We feel connected there: to ourselves, to who we are deep inside, minus all the baggage of life.

Find your secret strawberry place and take a mini-escape from the busy-ness of life. Reconnect with yourself. Find healing and peace. It’s almost like you’re recharging your battery, so you can go back out into the world and keep moving forward. Toward what? Nobody knows for sure. But sometimes taking a moment to pause and reflect helps keep us going.

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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