A year at the tree line

Scribbled on the mantelpiece in the art-studio, in the cabin which will be our home for the year, are the words VAR TROGEN, BRYT RUTINEN. A literal translation from Swedish would read something like BE FAITHFUL, BREAK THE ROUTINE. Scrawled in charcoal long ago by Isak’s grandfather, this aphorism calls out to us, a reminder that being faithful to our lived experience may at times require that we break our routines. What that means will differ entirely from person to person. For us it has meant to heed the call of the mountain as it beckons: to the tree line.

We live in strange times. It often feels like a time of unravelling – of the climate, of ecologies, and of political stories we thought we knew. Perhaps it is also a time of new beginnings, but in a different, more subtle and dispersed way. In the midst of all this, we are spending a year in the mountains of Härjedalen.

As we come into this new but familiar terrain, we are curious about many things. What happens if our to-do lists contain more wood-chopping and less emailing? What shifts might occur if we are outside every day, at the mercy of the mountain’s weather, seasons and moods? We ‘re not sure. But we feel fortunate to have this opportunity; getting to know this place, its seasons, whims, creatures and people, and gathering friends and friends-to-be in this land of birch and heather.

Ingrid and Isak