I am writing this to explain why I am here – in this forest, in this house – and why I decided to make it possible to visit Bondsäter while I am here: Why I invented Pension Bondsäter.
First of all: Bondsäter isn’t my house. I’m just renting the house for a little over a year. I decided to move here from Copenhagen, because I’m writing a novel about people who live like this; without the luxury of electric lights, running water and district heating.
Off course there is this one, big difference: In my novel they simply have no other choice, I do it voluntarily.
I have had this yearning for living in closer contact with the nature for as long as I can remember. Estranged, alienated. Good old terms, for me they are highly relevant. I wanted to live a life where getting heat and light takes more than pressing my finger on a switch, where the amount of water I use on a day for all the everyday purposes (drinking, cooking, doing the dishing, cleaning the house and myself) is not only visible as a stream floating out of the tap, but is actually felt as the weight of the bucket I carry from the well to the kitchen. Now I know that on an ordinary day without cleaning or bathing we use one bucket. I know that now, when it’s getting cold outside, I really appreciate having filled the bucket in the evening, so I can go ahead with the morning ritual of heating the stove, making my morning coffee, getting the house warmed up, before I have to go outside. Well, except the ultraquick visit to the das, that kind of makes the slow, warm, in-house-morning-feeling even better.
And then, the outside. I always wanted to grow my own vegetables. Oh, the gardendreams. But alas, since I’m a struggling writer, I don’t have the means to get my own plot of land. Now, living at Bondsäter, I have acces to a very, very well constructed garden. So another goal of my stay here is to work in the garden. I am living here with my son, almost 3 years old, and for me it’s also very valuable to give him this experience of watching things grow. And then eat it.
So. What is it like, this life. Isolated. Surrounded by the woods. How wild the wild woods are…
Writing this, I have only been here for a few months. Living here is a learning process. As I learn, I change, so my experience of living here changes. Things I find thoroughly scaring one day, the next completely escape my mind. They no longer exist, they only ever existed as selfinvented dangers. And then someting else pops out of nowhere and suddenly becomes an important part of the daily life.
So. What is it like? In my opinion, when asked right now, I will answer you this: It IS primitive. It’s physically demanding, it keeps you busy. It’s also a quiet life. Now, as the winter is settling; it’s a cold and dark life. It’s a stunningly beautifull life, it’s oh so rewarding. It’s a joyfull life.
But most off all, it’s a day-to-day life where nothing ever is as expected, but somehow it always turns out to be exactly like it should. Just in ways you didn’t imagine.
This is my history.
Then there is Bondsäters history.
Every house needs to be lived in. They need people to heat, clean even repair them. Otherwise they decay. The forest will slowly, but determinated, take over and eventually erase every trace of the house and the people who lived in it, loved it.
One of the first things I had to do, was to buy firewood. The man who delivered it jumped out of his tracktor, and said: “Jaha, det var roligt att komma tillbaka, jag har ju bott här när jag var femton år gammal.”
Fun to be back, I lived here when I was fifteen.
He then told me, that his father worked in the forest in the winters, and Bondsäter was home to these forestworking men during the season. The stable was meant for their two workhorses. That winter, when he was fifteen years old, he lived there with them and participated in the work.
He asked me whether the old stove was still in the kitchen. And I said that it could very well be. It’s definitely old. (Actually it’s allmost completely broken and needs to be changed, it will be changed very soon.) But I look at it differently after talking to the man. After hearing this story. And I’ve heard more stories. Bondsäter has had many different inhabitants. Some have lived here for years, others have passed by.
The house contains traces of it’s past. I see these traces, and I have become aware that I too will leave traces. Bondsäter is a very lovable house, a friendly house. But at the moment it definitely needs extra love and caring. Again: the struggling-artist-thing. Nor do I have the means to make a complete refurbishment, nor is it the purpose of my stay. I am here to write, first and most. But, I figured, I can do this – this makes sense:
By inviting more people to come and stay here – for a few days, for a week or two – by asking them to pay or work for their stay – I can make sure that when I leave Bondsäter, it will be in a better shape than now. People paying to stay in this house equals redoing making sense, economical and in terms of everyday use of the house. I can do this, and it’s not only this altruistic project – I two will benefit, that’s the beauty of it. In two ways. First the prosaic one, as I told you, the struggling-artist-thing: This will also be a way of financing my own stay. Secondly, mere socially, I do like meeting new people. Whether it’s people that share the yearning for this kind of living, or it’s someone who’s just curious about it. Or someone who is completely happy in the city, but like this as a holyday treat. I don’t care. I just like people. Like hearing their stories. Like sharing the little day to day experiences.
So this is the history about Pension Bondsäter. It’s all new and as with life out here, I have no idea how it actually turns out, but I’m guessing it will be completely different from my expectations, and in the end…. exactly like it should be.