Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Trollin" in Sweden

Greetings from the land of the midnight sun! I'm here in Smaland doing some family history research, visiting little villages where my Swedish ancestors once lived, trying to learn more about their lives.

I recently went "trollin" in the amazing Trollskogan forest on the northern tip of the Island of Oland in the Baltic Sea. They say that trolls live here! Ancient gnarled oaks twist through the dense forest, taking on the shape of witches, ghosts, and trolls. One tree is 900 years old! I was alone in a fairyland, stumbling over rocky trails, walking through silky threads of spider webs. In the background, the sea wails and crashes against the rocky shoreline. All alone...wondering what lurks around the next bend. Yes, this is a place where imaginations soar. A place to set a story, perhaps. What if...

I contined my "trollin" - this time, searching for tiny villages where my ancestors lived in the 1700's and 1800's. A very long time ago. Some of their old farms no longer exist although remnants of their lives dot the forested landscape.

I was delighted to find the Algutsboda Kyrka (church) where my ancestors were baptized, where many were buried. It was built in the 1500's, renovated in the 1700's. Searching through the grave yard in a drizzling rain, I was disappointed to learn that the graves of my relatives were no longer visible. They now lie buried beneath another layer of gravestones. That is the way they do things here...

My search for these graves was similar to my search for the trolls. Perhaps I didn't find what I thought I was looking for...but maybe I found even more. Maybe we don't need physical evidence of things like spirits and trolls. Maybe it's enough just to feel their believe in the magic.

Stay tuned and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay

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