Aug 14, 2016

The baker's cottage in my heart

It was when the radio was playing one of my mother’s favorite singers at the same time as I was holding the photo of my parents as a young and happy couple, I bursted into tears.

My place here at the end of the road is a setting of the house, the baker’s cottage and the coach house/wood shed. There used to be a barn too of course. This is my grandparents homestead, and at that time the baker’s cottage really was a place where you baked the bread for the family. The thin crust and the soft ones. In the winters it was may grandfather’s work shop for carpentry.

In my childhood the baker’s cottage was transformed to a summer cabin for my parents, my sister and me. The colors where blue and white. As grandparents my mom and dad spent a lot of time there, and Trouble & Trouble used to happily run between the two houses, their parents and their grand parents. Me myself survived my sons’ teens, house jam packed with tons of sweat-smelling incredibly loud boys, with fleeing into the tranquility of the baker’s cottage during the summer evenings. Trouble 2 made it his home over summers and falls during his post high school years when he travelled a lot. So, the little house has served four generations well, and we have all left our marks there.

For a lot of years now though, the baker’s cottage has been more of a storage unit. Shoveled in spare furniture. Film set and music studio. Firewood on the floor, old newspapers, “what to do with this? Well put it in the baker’s cottage for now”. In short, it has not been a nice place and even hard to enter as things have been piled up in front of the mud room door.

It’s interesting how you can carry a feeling of a place without even opening the door. These last few years, I am realizing, I haven’t wanted to look over at the baker’s cottage. Because I have been feeling the dark and the weight of it. And I think I had even given up the hope of it ever feeling light and warm again.

But I was wrong.

Three weeks ago Trouble 2 and Audrey, Emil and Disa made a heroic effort and restored the baker’s cottage to it’s former blue and white glory!

Emil is Trouble&Trouble’s second cousin and so Trouble 2’s grandmother’s father is Emil’s grandfathers’ father. In that sense Emil is related to the baker’s cottage as well, although he didn’t spend his childhood there. And Disa is Emil’s girlfriend.

It was a perfect summer sunday, 72°F (22,5°C), the best of circumstances for carrying everything out on the lawn while mopping the floors with green soap, dusting, and airing comforters and pillows. When it was all done, the little house smelled as fresh as if my mother would have done it herself, although she wouldn’t have been pleased about the fact the windows weren’t cleaned. Sloppy! Will you never learn how to do things properly!

In the evening my sense of the baker’s cottage was light. Blue and white. As it used to be. My eyes were drawn to it. Since then I have kept the door open during the warm summer weeks. And it was with great joy I took my aunt Inga-Märta, the only one left of the three children who were born here in the early days, for a little tour in there, the other day. Her eyes are failing her, but as many things are so familiar, they are still recognizable.

Today I was sitting at the dining table in the baker’s cottage big kitchen for a little while. The summer is already gone unfortunately, so it was chilly in there. I was painting a small piece of furniture from my mom and dad. Listening to Sommar-Summer, on the transistor radio. It was a very long time since I last dipped a brush into a paint tin. And put the brush to the wood. I do it with the skills my father taught me. Thin layers. “Yes, you will need to paint more coats, but it will look so much nicer. Always empty the brush on the wood, there is a lot more paint left there than you think.” I actually paint my nails with the same technique.

Sitting in the light baker’s cottage that doesn’t weigh on me anymore. Surrounded by memories and stories from four generations. Painting. The feel of the brush to the wood. Listening to the radio. Busk Margit Jonsson singing. Gammal fäbodpsalm (Hymn from the old pastures), one of my mother’s favorites. Watching the photo of my parents together on the couch in their first home. Smiling to the camera. They look happy. And I burst into tears.

I move over to my special place, the top of the blue firewood storage right next to the fireplace. I used to love sitting there as a little girl, feet not touching the floor, legs dangling. The heat from the fire. I sit down and realize the top is falling apart. The front plank is loose. A crack in the light picture. 

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