The Simple Life in Northern Sweden

The Simple Life in Northern Sweden

I’ve always been enamored with Scandinavia and feel some connection to the region as a resident in the Pacific Northwest. While it’s not as cold here, the landscape and people have things in common. In fact, the Pacific Northwest was a popular destination for Scandinavians in the early 1900s, many of whom worked in the logging industry. I recently read the book Deep River by Karl Marlantes, which is about loggers who migrated from Finland and settled by the Columbia River.

My friend Jeff Henshaw shared the video below, which takes a look at a young couple’s off-the-grid cabin in northern Sweden. The host, Kalle, is engaging and funny and the photography is beautiful. In terms of simplicity, it’s more than I want. But I do find it inspirational to see people making this choice.

Kalle is also on Instagram

In 2006, Sachi and I visited Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Most of our time was spent in the Lofoten Islands, which are inside the arctic circle. It was the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen.

Lofoten isalnds landscape in Norway
Lofoten isalnds landscape in Norway

Here are our best photos from Scandinavia and a video on YouTube.

A Cabin the PNW Woods

A Cabin the PNW Woods

It’s a familiar story. Two friends decide to build a cabin in the woods where they can get away from desk jobs and spend time away from the city. These stories often cover the same territory: the dream runs headlong into reality. The story below is no different, but has a happier ending.

In Outside magazine, Bryan Schatz and Patrick Hutchison tell their story of building a cabin from scratch on the slopes of the Cascade Mountains outside of Seattle. It’s called “We Quit Our Jobs to Build a Cabin—Everything Went Wrong (and it was Awesome)”

Photo by Bryan Schatz

What I love about this article is that it’s about inexperience and things going off the rails. It’s about effort, strife, and pain. But what really stands out is how much they enjoyed the experience. To me, the magic in projects like this is the feeling, when the day is done, that you have put in the work and learned something new. As they write:

That night, exhausted but content, we jumped in the river and had a fire on its banks. We got good and drunk and temporarily forgot about the fact that we still had to cut and attach the rafters, build out the roof, install the door, finish the siding and windows, construct the kitchen and bathroom, put in the wood-burning stove, finish the loft, insulate and clad the walls, wire and plumb everything, never mind the finish tasks of trim, tile, light fixtures, and on and on.

That’s the magic.

We’re putting real work into on our house project, but most of it is being left to the professionals. We still return home sore and exhausted…and it’s awesome.

The article also contains a a delightful description of backwoods PNW personality:

One time, we were both on the roof when a guy known as Hermit Gary showed up. We’d only heard tales of him, and then one bright day, he emerged from a sea of ferns like a landlocked Poseidon. He wore sweatpants, no shirt, and earmuffs; he held a chainsaw running in his hands. Without saying a word to us, he started sawing a tree at the bottom of our property, which wouldn’t have been such a big deal except that it had grown to hold up a much larger, precariously situated tree that could have obliterated the cabin in one violent collapse. It took a full minute of our screaming before he finally heard us, looked up at the trees, said, “Oh…ha!” and went about his day somewhere else. Sometimes our cabin felt like a house of cards.

Thanks to Newley’s Notes for the pointer to this article.