Sunday, April 11, 2021

A Day in the Countryside . . . frescoed churches and green growing cropland

LeRon and I are NOT city people.  We've adapted quite well to life here in Stockholm, (and before that, in Nairobi), but we both long to be out where we can see the sky and enjoy the fields of green, growing crops.  We don't need to be around a lot of people all the time.  A woman asked me once how I could stand living out in the sticks on our farm.  She asked, "Who do you talk to?"  I told her I had neighbors across the road, more neighbors a mile across the field, my in-laws on the other side of the trees, my husband out in the field, my kids coming and going, a 2-way radio, the telephone . . . what more could I need?

We had a great few hours yesterday exploring the countryside west of Stockholm.  But first . . . our Snowy Owl has died . . . and a few pictures of our ramble in a nearby forest a week ago.

Our gigantic snowy owl has now melted to a snowy blob.  So sad!  Our friend, Per, did his best to keep the snowy owl alive, but the warm temperatures of spring saw its end. But it lived long enough to see flowers peeking through the grass.  (For more information on the snowy owl, see past posts).

We've discovered a large forested area to the west with lots of trails and interesting things to see.  Here are mushrooms growing on a stump.  Not something we see in Alberta.

Lots of big rocks.  There's so much rock around here that we don't know how trees can grow.  We know that they are fairly shallow-rooted and can blow over in a strong wind.  Thank goodness they don't get winds quite like we do in southern Alberta.

LeRon's dad, Marvin Torrie, liked to discover big rocks (though not as big as this one) and move them off the field and into piles in the corner.  The rocks that we have in our yard came from Dad Torrie -- the pie rock, the whale rock, the rock our cat Blackie sunned himself on, and other rocks that we haven't named.

We came across several huge ant hills in the forest that were absolutely crawling with ants.  Check out the above video and watch the creepy-crawly things creep and crawl. (Watch in full screen for the best effect!)

Now we're on our drive to discover whatever we can discover.  And here's our first discovery.  The Yttergran Kyrka of the Church of Sweden.  This is the bell tower and the church is not in the picture yet.

Looking from the bell tower to the Yttergran Kyrka. Click to enlarge and you will see straps around the tower to hold the building together.  The pastor told us that this is the smallest medieval church in Sweden.  Medieval churches are from the Middle Ages, also called the Dark Ages, from about the 4th century to the 14th or 15th century.

The interior was astounding!  Frescoes covered the ceilings and walls of this tiny church.  Albertus Pictor (Albert the Painter in English), the most famous late-medieval Swedish painter, was the artist behind these intriguing frescoes.  Here we're looking up toward the pipe organ that LeRon really wanted to play!

The frescoes are whimsical and we weren't sure exactly what they portrayed.

We're looking toward the altar now.  You can see how the frescoes cover all the walls and the ceiling.

This shows how small the chapel is.  You can seat maybe three people on each side.  I loved the stone floor!

Archwork and colorful paintings.

The pew stalls are numbered.  I should have noticed how many there actually were, but I think about 10 on each side. The stall doors are made of wood, painted to look like marble.  They remind me of the pillars in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. The pioneers painted them to look like marble too.

I zoomed in on this so you can see the Hebrew writing on the sunstone below the cross.  I used to be able to read Hebrew characters but I have forgotten them.  Our Jewish friend, Yael, needs to tell me what they say!

From the inside, we couldn't see any way to get into this tall tower.  It doesn't hold church bells because they are in the free-standing wooden bell tower seen in the first picture.

We're loving seeing more crops growing in the sun.  The red barn looked really classy next to the green field.

The red barn is so cute!  Love the white trim.

Now we're at the Övergrans Kyrka.  We just drive until we see a church or a green field.  Sadly, this one was locked so we couldn't see the frescoes by Albertus Pictor that are in this church also.

But here's a Viking rune stone in the church yard.  The sign on the left gives an interpretation of the characters.

The Övergrans Kyrka is plastered on the outside and has very thick walls as you can tell from the windows.  I want to see inside!

We stopped to see this crop of we weren't sure what.  We thought it was winter canola at first because the leaves look like they are from the cabbage family (and canola is part of the cabbage family surprisingly), but it wasn't canola.  And it wasn't sugar beets.  I should know because I grew up on a sugar beet farm.  It looked like two crops seeded together.  Maybe some kind of kale and perhaps dill.  Will be interesting to see it again in a few weeks.

Stopped at another locked church.  This time the Hjälsta Kyrka.  Another medieval church, but with no frescoes on the walls (at least according to Wikipedia).
Window with a picture of the risen Lord, and the scales of justice perhaps.

Another bell tower beside the church.  This one has been jacked up on stones, maybe to help preserve the wood.

You can walk anywhere in Sweden as long as you don't damage anything.  We walked a long way from the church along a rise, with houses on one side and fields on the other.

LeRon gets a little homesick in the spring.  He loves to be out in the fields, and even though he's now retired from farming, he likes to help the sons whenever they need him, which he hopes is often.  Oh well.  Next spring we'll be home.  In the meantime, we're happy to be serving the Lord among the people of Sweden.

LeRon and I have had an on-going disagreement over what kind of headstone we would like.  I have always wanted shiny black and he has always wanted pink, like his parents' headstone.  This is the first time I've seen a pink headstone that I've actually liked.  I think it's because I love the gold paint.  It looks so cheerful!  And we both like the two love birds on the top, and the wheat and flowers on the side (click to enlarge so you can see them).  Plus we love the rough stone and then the polished stone where the words are.  Hmn . . . maybe we can come to a common decision after all.  We've always said that whoever goes first gets to choose.  But this may be a nice compromise.

We see rune stones and Viking remains everywhere we go.  So interesting to live in a place with so much history.


  1. Thank you for taking me along on your tour of the countryside!

  2. It was funny - when I visited my friends in Northern Ireland for the first time, and then 2 years ago when I visited Sweden, I saw houses and barns and other types of residential buildings outside the cities and thought, "OH! This is where the US and Canada get their architecture from!" It was so familiar. At least the outsides of the houses and barns anyway.