Memories Of Warm Summer Days

Fireweed in the summer night light

dry moss

Baltic sea beach

strawberries from the garden

gray sky over the river

Mountain lake and sunset

Mountains and orange sky

Butterfly

rapsberries from the garden

drought in the forest

summer sky

baltic sea rock beach

beetroots from the garden

Fireweeds and gray sky

noctilucent clouds

Never had I seen the forest so dry or heard the moss creaking under my feet.

The dust from the dirt road to the seaside was flying around the car, falling on the wild blueberry bushes and staying there, a coat of gray on the forest floor that no rain came to wipe off.

Nestled between the forest and the Baltic sea were little summer cabins, little summer paradises, brought back to life for the warm weeks of July. The sun was hot, the wind was warm and it felt easy to get into the water. I’d thought it wouldn’t be warm enough for anything but a quick dip, but it was delightful to bathe and swim for a while. It felt just like when I was a kid and my family spent the end of our summers by the Mediterranean sea.

The grass in the garden had stopped growing long before Midsummer. The raspberries started ripening so early that we pondered cancelling our trip to the mountains and stay at home on jelly duty.
As we picnicked by the river after an unexpected pause to set up the spare tire, we watched the sky darken and wondered: will there be a thunderstorm? Will we get rain to cool the air a little? Or will the thunder start another forest fire?

We set the table in the garden every day. When the sun had turned and we could be in the shade, we picked the raspberries. Late at night, when it was a little cooler, Mom and Dad and I cooked many jars of jelly.

There was a watering ban, so we collected water went we showered and carried watering cans to try and save my vegetable patch. We couldn’t do miracles. But there were few pretty beetroots and some delicious strawberries.

Come August, there was a warning for cyanobacterial bloom at one of the nearby beaches.

The night sky got slowly darker. I was the days when you gaze up and spot a star and think: funny how I’d forgotten about that! I got a text from my brother one night. “If you look North, you will see noctilucent clouds”.

 

 

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Fields And Skies

Field turning yellow, cloudy skies || Västerbotten countryside || by marion

Field turning yellow, cloudy skies || Västerbotten countryside || by marion

Green fields are turning yellow, wild geese and swallows are back.

Field turning yellow, cloudy skies || Västerbotten countryside || by marion


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One Year Of Jam

Home-made jam || by marion

Wild blueberries || by marion

Raspberry and blueberry jam || by marion

Raspberry bushes || by marion

Wild blueberry and raspberry jam || by marion

Wild blueberries in the forest || by marion

Blueberry, raspberry & plum crisp || by marion

Blueberry picking forest view || by marion

Little jars, big milestone!
Last August, I made jam. August is there again: here in the north of Sweden, raspberries and wild blueberries are ripe and delicious. There’s still a jar of jam left from last year, and now I’m making more. Full circle!

On this journey to growing & foraging more of my own food,  the most important lesson I’m constantly learning is to lower my expectations and set reasonable goals.

Making one year’s worth of jam was my goal for last year. It was reasonable: raspberry bushes grow on their own in our garden, requiring zero maintenance except one yearly trimming. As for blueberries, well, the forest all around is full of them.

We’re celebrating the new berry season with Natalie’s fruit oatmeal crisp. Let me tell you, it’s delicious. After investing in a berry-picker comb, we set a new reasonable goal for this year: make another year’s worth of jam, plus freeze some fresh berries to enjoy next winter.

This is nothing like self-sufficiency, but there’s something so deeply satisfying about seeing those jars pile up. Not too little, not too much, just what we need plus some to give as gifts. Growing our own food, one little step at a time.

My super simple wild blueberry/raspberry jam

  • Servings: about 3 jars
  • Print

This is how I make my summer berries jam. I don’t even use any special jam sugar or additional pectin, but usually it sets just fine. I reuse peanut butter jars (such as pictured above) I save all year long. While I cook the jam, I sterilize the jars by putting them in the oven at 100°C for about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 800 g crystal sugar (I use organic white sugar)
  • 1 kg fresh berries
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large pot. While stirring, bring to a boil, boil until a foam forms, rises on the sides of the pot and falls again. Reduce the heat and boil for a 5-10 more minutes while stirring. Pour still hot into sterilized jars. Close the jars and put them upside down to cool. The jam will seem liquid but will set as it cools.

 


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July Snapshots

Making coffee on the camp fire

roadside flowers || by marion

a river between two lakes

roadside flowers || by marion

red houses by the river

roadside sign loppis, västerbotten countryside

building a miniature watermill || Swedish summer || by marion

drive safe, retirees playing playing road sign

Dipping feets in the river || Swedish summer || by marion

mountain view, south lapland, sweden

Wow, it’s been quiet around here. But you see, July is such a busy month : sunbathing (vitamin D, please!), dipping feets in rivers, driving past roadside flowers and funny road signs (“drive safe, retirees playing !”), treasure hunting in flea markets, building miniature watermills, making coffee on campfires, having picnics with a view (and occasionally, mosquitoes), etc, etc.

Bright summer nights, great times, great company: July in Sweden is just wonderful.

roadside flowers || by marion

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Solstice Skies

summer solstice sky, västerbotten, sweden, by marion

summer solstice full moon, västerbotten, sweden, by marion

summer solstice sunset, västerbotten, sweden, by marion


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May Snapshots

birch leaves With may came green leaves,

field green fields,

seedlings and tiny green seedlings.

splitting firewood There was firewood to cut and split.

rainbow One day there was a rainbow.

blooming tree The tree started blooming.

evening walk I went on many evening walks.

sunset The days got longer and longer,

early morning mist and now there are bright nights and this early morning mist is back.


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It’s Not Everyday

Lövånger church town // bymarion… that you walk down a street with grass beneath your feet.

 
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Some Things

calendula // https://bymarion.wordpress.com Something that smells wonderful, picked in the garden and put to dry to make some good tea this winter.

raspberries // https://bymarion.wordpress.com Something to start the jam making season.

baltic sea // https://bymarion.wordpress.com Something not pictured: a fire lighted on the beach and hotdogs grilling. When North Sweden gives you a nice summer evening, go to the beach: checked.

zippered pouch // https://bymarion.wordpress.com Something that was actually easier than I thought. I had saved the zippers from a worm-out raincoat, and when I came across this post by Carmella, I decided to sew a zippered pouch, too. I had never sewn a zipper before, but the tutorial she links to was very clear and helpful. I recycled fabric from an old pant and an old shirt — some of which I also used a while ago to make pillow covers.

And something I’m happy about: one of my greeting card designs made it to the top 100 of the UNICEF greeting cards design contest at jovoto. Here is a watercolor version, and here are some pics behind the scenes.

Have a good weekend!


other things


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Some Things

wild strawberriesSomething red. Didn’t I tell you I like red?

peonies Something blooming.

flowers on the doorstepSomething on the doorstep.

raspberry Something just ready.

familyAnd something good to remember.

Have a good weekend!


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It’s Carnivorous

closeup_bymarion… you can see these little drops of glue if you look close enough.

 
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