One night earlier this week, we visited one of Matt’s colleagues at her family’s summer house. We had aperitifs on the dock, warming ourselves in the late evening sun, and a lovely salmon dinner inside after the sun started going down and the temperature dropped.
It felt like we had gone camping in the Boundary Waters, only we had the luxury of a real kitchen and flushing toilet in the houses at the top of the lawn. And if we had stayed the night, we could have slept in lofts, semi-camped out.
The property sits on a shoreline of a sound that lies about an hour’s drive from Stockholm. It was so quiet, even though houses pepper the shores in all directions, and several motorboats had gone by earlier in the day. As the sun set, the only sound was of fish jumping out of the water, presumably to catch bugs at the surface, and slapping back down in watery landings. By 9 pm, with the sun gone, it was pitch black around the houses in the family compound.
The tradition of summer homes seems to be coming to a head as generations multiply here in Sweden — in some cases, too many family members can lay claim to these gorgeous pieces of property, sometimes with mere shacks to house the many branches of a family tree for several weeks at a time, but as often as not with large mansions built to get them all under one roof. Even a shack can go for millions of kronor (5 million SEK is equivalent to about USD$700,000). I wonder about the inheritance schemes that are going to have to come into play, along with pollution control measures, as more and more of what I assume is the country’s growing population wants to live at the beach every summer.
In this family’s case, the property was passed on to a single child a few generations ago, which made things easy for that child’s two kids. But now the grandkids are coming, along with the potential for family arguments — about use, inheritance, maintenance costs, construction, and more. But for now, the place seems so peaceful, and quite large enough to share even with everyone camped out at the same time.
As we were preparing to leave, we stood on the deck looking up at the stars — there were so many, so bright in the clear sky, which really made it feel like an outdoor experience. I could see the Milky Way, and I think it was Venus that hung low in the sky, so bright and larger than I’ve ever seen it.