Secret Sweden – ’They think everyone knows all the best secrets already!’
Fransesca Quartey begins her regular column about ‘Secret Sweden’ with a plea to Norrland newcomers to be nosy and curious about their new home. Just don’t try to ask the locals where they find their chanterelles.
‘Yesterday, when my sister-in-law went to visit the antique barn …’ my neighbor said in a matter-of-fact way as she poured me a cup of coffee.
‘What!’, I exclaimed, trying gracefully not to spill hot coffee all over myself. ‘What antique barn?!’
‘You know the one in Rödsele that has all those paintings and porcelain cups and saucers,’ she said.
‘No! I do not know of any antique barn,’ I said incredulously, knowing that she was more than acquainted with my obsession with flea markets and antique shops, since almost every item in my house had been purchased that way. ‘Oh’, she smiled softly, ‘I thought you knew.’
And there you have it. People in Skellefteå tend to think that everyone living here knows all the secrets. Like where the best coffee is to be had or how you buy the most delicious organic tomatoes from a private farmer and pay even if no one is there by simply leaving some money in a little box.
They know all the amazing spots to go swimming and how to find that special restaurant located in the middle of nowhere and enjoy a mouthwatering meal. But they always, always forget to tell you, because they think you already know. Which is why it’s so important to ask them.
To ask Swedish people about their favorite places is indeed to know their secrets and most of the time they will be more than willing to share. Except if you ask what they earn and where they find their mushrooms. Those are a definite no-no. But ask them about a great picnic place and you may well find an Instagram moment bound to go viral and the source of many happy memories when winter comes. And winter always comes.
So, be bold. Get out of your comfort zone and make a mental note to ask each Swede you meet for those special places; because, as it is written, ‘he/she who asks will indeed receive.’
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