Thursday, August 8, 2013

Vacation Series Part 1 - A "Tjörney" Begins... With A Single Step...

... Or in this case, with a car fully loaded with friends visiting from the US, a cat in a cat carrier, and jam-packed luggage for just under three weeks. There were no bicycles, no scissors, and no cast iron skillets involved but there was lots of salt water, fresh, sea air, sheep petting, and crab cooking going on. Last summer I came up with the term tjörney and wrote about it in one of my Finding Happy in 365 Days blog posts when we were about to embark upon a journey to Tjörn. I thought it was cool and catchy and it rhymed with journey, which we were about to take, so it stuck. And it is always a special journey to travel to Tjörn. Tjörney is my word, but you can borrow it.

Anyway, off we went on our tjörney...

... and it was marvelous! This year we decided to stay for two weeks rather than our usual one-week visit. And it made a huge difference. I mean, you have just barely begun to relax after one week. After two weeks however, you are like melted butter. There is something refreshing and healing about being near the ocean and breathing in the heavy, salt air. Towels never seem to completely dry out, your feet are dirty and stained on the bottom from picking red and black currants and walking barefoot, the nights are silent and dark and restful, and the sea breeze blows away all of your worldly cares.

Three things that I've come to associate with summer at Tjörn are: 1) Picnic, boat trips out to Skaboholmen, a smaller islet of Tjörn, 2) Buying fresh crabs directly from the fisherman the day they are caught (and, of course, eating them), and 3) Watching Pina explore the outdoors (albeit attached to harness and leash), eating grass and bugs, and being taunted by the birds.

Skaboholmen is a special place for my husband. He spent nearly all of his childhood summers there. Exploring the rocky cliffs (complete with a secret hidden cave), swimming and basking in the sun, and enjoying picnics with his family and summer friends. It has likewise become a special place for me. Even on days that are a bit more chilly than desired, I look forward to packing up our picnic and feeling the cool air against my face as we make our way to Skaboholmen in our little, motor boat. My husband realized on this trip that their little boat is about 30 years old! (See top photo) He, or she, has served the family well over the years.

Previously christened a badkruka (literally means swimming pot, but it is a term used to describe someone who is a chicken when it comes to getting in the water), I am now officially a swimming goddess. I no longer stand for hours at the waters edge, hesitating until my husband loses his patience, or turns blue. I may hesitate briefly but I now leap in (more like a frog, really), with wild abandon. As long as someone is already in the water to scope out the jellyfish scene. My husband has become my personal, jellyfish scope. I send him out first and he goes under the water, does a 360 turn, and then pops up and says, "ingen maneter," which means no jellyfish. Which means I have to get in. (Brrrrrr!)

Then there are the crabs. Delicious, west coast crabs cooked in salted water with a bit of beer, sugar and fresh, crown dill. Some summers we've missed out on getting crabs but this summer we succeeded. I always love going to pick them up. It is just a short drive away from the summer cottage. We park next to the water and then walk along a passageway, next to the cottages where the fishermen live, to the crab fishermen's sjöbod, or boathouse. It is dark inside with the only light coming from a couple of windows and an open door facing the bay. The fishermen sit wrapping crabs in newspaper while you keep count as they go into the bag. Then you race home to scrub and cook them! Seriously, it doesn't get much better than that.

A new favorite part of going on a tjörney however is watching the fun and excitement our kitty has exploring nature. She loves it there. She loves to sit and eat the grass, and any other tasty weed she comes across, along with an assortment of bugs and insects. And although she did not succeed in a catch, she hunted a field mouse one day and was taunted by a mother bird nearly the entire time we were there. The mother bird had a nest of four babies that we discovered a week into our stay and she was determined to keep Pina's attention distracted from the nest. She obviously had no idea that Pina was on a leash and harness and couldn't get to her babies. That is, as long as we were around to watch her. That sneaky cat figured out how to get out of her harness by turning herself around and hoping and pulling again the tautly, stretched out leash until she was able to wriggle out of it. I noticed one day, as we were "hanging out" together in the yard, that she was hoping around and I stood up to see if she had caught something or was caught on something. I caught her just as she'd completely freed herself of the harness and just before she took off. From then on I knew I had to keep a closer eye on her. Smarty cat.
Her favorite place to sleep inside the cottage after a morning or afternoon of bird watching and sunbathing was snuggled between the extra, foam mattresses, stacked on their sides in one of the spare rooms. She even crept inside one of the mattress covers one day (they fit completely around the mattress like a giant pillow case) and it took forever to find her. I finally noticed the lump sticking out on the side of one of the mattresses. She's a sneaky one.

If you have never been on one, and chances are good that you haven't since I came up with the term, I highly recommend taking a tjörney, or just a journey if a tjörney is not available. It is a magical and relaxing way to spend your vacation and recharge.

Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of my Vacation Series...

Have a Happy Day!

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