Friday, August 19, 2011

Travels continue... from Umeå to Lycksele and Vägsele - Sweden, 2011

barbells and workout DVD
An unexpected discovery in my hotel room in Umeå... two sets of barbells along with a DVD of suggestions for workouts. Fortunately, they were not at the head end of the bed! And they did NOT get used by me but they were an artistic addition to the decor. :-)

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Before leaving Umeå, we went to Gammlia, a part of town where there is an open air museum with buildings representing diverse cultures and various historic times. We happened to be there just as people were coming to church in the old Gammlia Kyrka. The church is not very large but it is quite pretty... the service was outdoors on this nice Saturday morning during Midsummer celebrations and the pastor was happy to tell us a bit about the church. We were invited to stay for the service but needed to be on the road to Lycksele and Vägsele to meet up with our cousins.

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More from the Gammlia Kyrka... close up of the bell tower and interior shots showing the painted walls (commonly done to make them look like stone) and some of the interior decorations as well as the high pulpit (dark because I chose to show it as it was with natural light).

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The schoolteacher docent in Gammlia standing outside the schoolhouse which was also used as a bakery. Interior shots show some of the school supplies (slates the student used, chalk (in baskets in drawer) and erasers (rolled up rags)), the room where the teacher would have stayed while teaching students for the 3 month period s/he was at this school and the chamberpot (used during the night if needed and emptied the next day).

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Schoolteacher explaining that the "sticks" of letters, numbers and symbols behind her were used to teach arithmetic, the alphabet and spelling, a water mill building near the school, oil lamp used for light during long, dark winter nights and the school garden which also would have been used in teaching the students as well as providing produce for the teacher.

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Entering the Sami village we saw smoke coming from this "cot" and were invited in by the young Sami who was the docent on duty. He told us that he and his father built this cot, first finding the curved trees that are used for the main support of the structure and then finding and cutting all the logs. Construction was done entirely without the use of nails which were very scarce and hard to come by in northern Sweden in the old days. In the cot, the family sits to the right of the fire with the most important members seated furthest from the door in order of importance to the family (the mother is the most important); guests would have been seated on the left. I commented that his clothing didn't look very authentic Sami to me... his comment in return was that he is Sami and the clothes felt like clothing to him so they must be authentic Sami clothing. :-)

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Images from the Västerbottens museum in Gammlia, Umeå, Sweden. Museums of this sort were established to display buildings and lifestyles that seemed to be vanishing with the onset of the industrial revolution. Of course I had to include a macro of a hoverfly... the images surrounding it from top right to lower bottom left are of a summer barn, a rail fence with a drying rack in the background (both built without using nails), a threshing barn, windows of the "cot" seen in the adjacent image, two sheep stripping a young pine of its bark and lower needles, a lovely scene of an old wooden structure next to the forest.

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The two wooden structures high off the ground and supported by raised platforms with tree trunks as the base are typical of Sami food storage buildings, designed to keep food away from four-legged predators. The tree trunks are still rooted in the ground. The middle structure is a portable cot (Sami home) that is used in summer while moving the reindeer herd from one grazing ground to the next.

reindeer carving
This reindeer carving was in the Sami village in the open air museum in Gammlia, Umeå, Sweden. Reindeer are very important to the Sami who domesticated reindeer in the 16th and 17th centuries.

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By now we were LATE for lunch for sure and anxious to join our cousins for a meal and to get acquainted/reacquainted. So off we raced to Lycksele where we checked into our hotel and then continued on to Vägsele. Cousin Sture and Inger live in the "new" house on the family property which has been in the Johansson family since the 1600s, seen here with our rental car and their car parked in front shortly after our arrival. Sweden's colors of blue and yellow were in the wildflower bouquet and the maypole (significant to Midsummer celebrations) on the dining table, the wood stove is the second of two stoves in Inger's kitchen and serves dual duty in winter as an extra cooking stove and a heat source. Our first meal included two types of herring (pickled and in cream sauce), moose (killed by Sture during the winter hunt and deliciously prepared by Inger), cloudberry quiche (delicious!) and other wonderful food. The old red barn seen on our after dinner hike, the table set for dinner, our cousins' pet peeking out from under the rug where he hid for awhile and lingonberry blossoms finish out this collage.

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After dinner, we went off on an "easy hike" as described by Inger who is five years older than I am... if this was an easy hike, a difficult one might be too much for me! It wasn't that difficult but it did go through rocky ground and was an uphill climb. The red building is one of many old buildings we saw in the countryside in northern Sweden; ruins of old farm equipment dot the landscape; Sture's wife Inger with their pet following close behind (must get the correct spelling of the dog's name but think it might be Frässe); Sture carrying umbrellas in case of rain (it did not); and images of distant landscape as seen from high up the mountain.

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The top left and bottom right corner images are the new and old houses respectively on the Johansson property. Sture and Inger have lived in the new house since 2004; the old house, built in 1792 and no longer livable, is where our grandfather was born and where he and our grandmother lived after they were first married. Their oldest two children, born before they emigrated to the US in the early 1900s, were also born here. Other images include a lovely old stone building in disrepair, a small portion of the wood chopped by cousin Sture (no wonder he is in such great shape) for their use in heating their home, a late evening scene of the beautiful countryside in Vägsele, the old laundry house, used by our ancestors as a communal clothes washing place, and more old farm equipment rusting in the fields.

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I'll leave you with two more late evening sunset scenes... a beautiful end to our first day spent with cousins Sture and his wife Inger. All images in this post are available for viewing as a slide show if you'd like to see them in their original format.

2 comments:

Shammickite said...

Wonderful pictures, I feel as if I am on the trip with you. I laughed when I read the comment about the Sami authentic clothing!!

Ginnie said...

I can just imagine what it must have felt like to see your heritage in this way, Victoria. Oh my. It's so rich and so...old.

When I saw the open-air museum, I couldn't help but think of the one in Oslo that I have now seen twice. To see life as it was lived "back then" gives much meaning to how we live now.

I loved seeing the "outfit" of the female pastor. :) What a delightful church for her to shepherd.

So much to see. So much to do. I love that you are sharing it like this, with family included!