National Geographic : 1939 Sep
LIFE'S FLAVOR ON A SWEDISH FARM SEEDING RYE AS THEY DID IT IN THE TIME OF DAVID Carl Johansson, master of Higakull, fills a wooden box with rye and then walks up and down the field, casting the seed in fanlike sprays with lightning flicks of his wrist. Though the flying grain (center) is still in midair, the sower's hand has returned to the box for more seed. In a modest way he seems better off than some of the independent farmers. Gustav's wife, Alva, who operates a knit ting machine for the "big house," served us schnapps and beer and then one of the most typical of Swedish dinners, the main course consisting of pickled herring and boiled potatoes with sour cream and salt. They had recently sent their 16-year-old daughter to serve an apprenticeship as maid in a minister's house. Such a procedure is fairly common after the girls have finished compulsory school education at the age of 14 and taken the all-important sight-seeing trip to Copenhagen with the graduating class. In a few instances they continue their education in middle school in some near-by town (middle school is about the equivalent of high school), or take nurses' training in one of the county hospitals where persons who are unable to pay may be treated with out cost. Most of the boys seem to take as little schooling as possible and then either con tinue with farm work or go into city factories. Life at Hogakull has its idyllic moments. It is the hour of sunset. Per comes from the barn with white-brimming milk pails, leaves them at the door for Lisa, and, swing ing three fish nets over his shoulder, leads me down the narrow path to Lake Rymmen. CASTING THE NETS AT NIGHTFALL We take the flat-bottomed boat and shove off on the windless waters. Not a breath of air ruffles the surface, blue and crystalline under a sky corrugated with wisps of cloud, and the sun flings its last feeble rays upon the treetops of the island called "Long." We go round it to the large rock and I row slowly as Per plays out the nets. Over the mirror of water, which is chang ing from blue to dull gray, and beyond the sweep of shore that bends off toward Horda, lie dark, shadowy forms. They are other fishermen of Rymmen setting their nets by the strange light of dusk. The whole world seems drenched in calm. I can understand why this last of the day's chores lies closest to the farmer's heart. There is an assuring, entrenched constancy about it, as if this, the most ancient occupa tion of man, had always been a part of Smaland's lakes. Then the distant boats fuse into shadows as night sifts down over the lake like fine dust.