National Geographic : 1939 Sep
LIFE'S FLAVOR ON A SWEDISH FARM From the Rocky Hills of Smaland Thousands of Sturdy Citizens Have Emigrated to the United States BY WILLIS LINDQUIST With Illustrations from Photographs by the Author AOVE the plains of southern Sweden rises the highland Province of Sma land, a rocky plateau which at one time, thousands of years ago, was an island in a nameless sea. Comparatively few Americans visit Sma land; yet it has closer ties with the United States than any comparable area in the Scandinavian countries, since this rugged region is virtually the fountainhead of Swed ish emigration to America. From its steep gullies and rocky slopes have come approxi mately one-third of the Swedish emigrants to the United States-almost two hundred thousand in all. Centuries of hard struggle for a living are deeply graven upon the mold of life in that out-of-the-way province, and if there is any place where the spirit of old Sweden still lives on, I felt it must be in the "outback" of Smaland (map, page 396). ELECTRICITY FROM RUSHING STREAMS After making arrangements to stay with a farmer living in that region, I set out from Malmo, the southernmost seaport of Swe den (page 401). An electric train bore me northward over the rich plains of Skane that sweep onward and onward like a green, rolling sea to the far hills of Smiland. It was late afternoon when I arrived at the little village of Horda. There a brother of my host introduced himself and led the waytoacarhehadhiredtotakemethe remaining five and a half miles to the farm called Hogakull. Every Swedish farm has a name. Hogakull means "high little hill." My new acquaintance was known as the "Director," having acquired his title as directing manager of one of the many local electric power plants along the rushing streams. "I am leaving my bicycle in town," he remarked as we climbed into the motorcar. "I can get it another time." I asked him if there were many automo biles in Smaland. "None of the ordinary country folk has a 'bil.' Such things are only for the town people, the business men, and of course those who live in the manor houses." * The narrow gravel road turned left after passing a few houses and dipped into a low land of bogs and fields that had once been a lake bottom before the advent of drainage ditches, crossed the flat, and leaped into the cool shade of timbered hills. Large neat stacks of split logs and gray piles of sawdust lay here and there along the side of the road. We met a man on a bicycle who drew over to the edge, got off his wheel, lifted an old battered felt hat to us, and stood there watching with open curiosity until we were lost in the bend of the road. At intervals the forest opened to small rugged patches of field. The thick stone walls about them, made of stones from the fields, twisted and turned over the slopes like giant gray caterpillars. We clattered over small bridges with swift streams below them, saw flashes of blue lakes through screens of leaves and branches, then finally turned into Hogakull. GREETED WITH CAKES AND COFFEE Near the foot of the barnyard stood an old thatch-roofed barn, gray and beaten with age. Close by was a mossy open well with a pail above it. And then, as we drove through a leafy arch between tall maples, we saw the farmhouse, the tool shed, and a new barn, all painted a bright red with white trimmings. Flowers were blooming in the garden and around the house. The farmer, Carl Johansson, in a blue cotton tunic and rubber boots, came to meet us with a grin (page 395). He had little to say, but fairly rushed me to the coffee table. There were five or six kinds of cookies and tarts and two kinds of cake. The farmer's wife, Jenny, wasn't satisfied until I had tasted them all. Modest, shy, she had the peculiar faculty of blending with the shad owy corners of the room so that you hardly knew she was about. * See "Country-House Life in Sweden," by Amelie Posse-BrazdovA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1934.