I experienced one great flood when I was little, perhaps ten years old. We were living right by a fair size lake, and we were lucky to have a slope of perhaps three meters between our house and the normal water level, but our neighbour´s house foundations were pretty much right on top of the water.
|Grangärde Turisthotell (borrowed from here)|
|My little sister and I (on skates) in front of Tant Lund´s house, with the promontory on the left. She had a boat tied to the front door during the flood. I think she was much entertained by that!|
She was like an extra granny to me, unlike our other neighbour, Tant Ingrid (she was a first name-tant, which says something about the grandness of Tant Lund, who never would have thought of us calling her Tant Dagmar) who was nice but not as inviting. Tant Lund, on the other hand, almost always included my siblings and I in her projects. We each had a tomato plant in her green house, which we helped her tend (and she cleverly taught us all kinds of things about plants) and got all the produce from. She took us on mushroom hunting excursions and then taught us how to preserve them (her own secret methods), after which we made mushroom sandwiches au gratin for our parents. She made rhubarb pie with us. She made us help her guard the seagull nest on her small promontory. She sat angling with us on her lawn. She had a real, proper attic, the kind you only read about in books, full of old chests and furniture and treasure, and she would organize games with things we found there.
She had two daughters living far away, and grown-up grandchildren, one of which was a young man who had a large, very cool motorcycle. When he was visiting she would open her shed to show it to us every time we came over, which was pretty much every day in the summer. She loved that motorcycle, and now I suppose she saw her own adventurous self in her grandson. She had traveled much and had exotic souvenirs like a part of a sarcophagus on her wall. At 79, she started studying French.
She also had great style. She was the only old woman I knew who wore her hair long, but always elegantly up in a chignon (a bit like this). I once saw her hair out, when I came (early, I suppose) one day and she wasn´t dressed yet. She had a dressing gown that looked like a long smoking jacket and her hair was braided on her shoulder. As she got older, the chignon got darker and her hair whiter, so I guess it was a fake hair piece that she pinned on.
|Grangärde village, and we lived just outside the photo, on the left. (from Wikipedia)|
Being childishly virtuous about truth-telling, this bothered me, and I complained to my father that she had told an un-truth to the reporter. He just laughed it off, saying that of course she had spiced up her story a bit, and there was nothing wrong with being entertaining. Commendable, even. (Like in "24 Hour Party People" when Steve Coogan/Tony Wilson says something like: If you have to choose between the truth and the legend, always choose the legend.)
Unfortunately I have no photograph of Tant Lund. And I wouldn´t even want to try drawing her from memory. She was too great to fit on a piece of paper, a true Legend. Greater than I understood, probably. Perhaps I would have been too shy of her to get to know her if I had been older. I think she fundamentally shaped my idea of what it is to have class, style, and live a good life.