Chapter 23 (Part 2) — Bergslagen and Löa 13 years later


Twilight over the lake next to Nina’s little house

In 1984 we still lived in Paris and we had dinner with Nina who lived in Löa. My old friend Lennart was then married to Nina’s sister Maria, and we spent a very nice evening with Lennart’s sister-in-law.

View over the pond, Glatjärn, from Inger’s veranda, a dream house out in the woods, and a swimming pond that I have many fun memories from. (1971)

I had three friends in Löa who were movie makers. One of them was Inger, the younger sister of my old buddy Ragnhild,  who made dramatic movies for Swedish television and became so highly acclaimed that she was sometimes hailed as a new Ingmar Bergman. That may have been a bit exaggerated, but her movies were definitely works of art. Inger, retired now, had a distinct flair for drama, style, the Swedish past and the perfect music to accompany her movies.

Inger’s masterpiece was no doubt Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, which she made as a movie that got the Prix Italia in 1995. As a pure coincidence it had its world pre-premiere in Lyon after we had moved there, in a small salle in the Opera building. So we

1966. A look back in old history. This picture was taken by Lars Åby who is sitting close to the camera , Inger at the other end of the table. A crayfish party on Lars and Inger’s verandah on their lake.

were there with the press, the celebrities and the main actors and singers. Inger introduced us to Barbara Hendricks, one of our favorite sopranos. We shook hands while seeing her look above our heads at the press. She seems like a wonderful woman and we didn’t hold it against her.

Two other friends, Lars Åby and Nina (who kept her maiden name) separately made nature documentaries, Lars from the Arctic, polar bears, Svalbard (part of which is Spitsbergen) and Greenland; Nina made ecological documentaries about the clear water in Swedish rivers and streams being polluted, about old people being abandoned in their loneliness, excellent community-oriented, socially conscious movies. Nina is originally from Stockholm. Lars grew up in Löa, or close to it, and he has actually been called the man who put Löa on the map. He has made documentaries for BBC and also contributed to National Geographic. His photography from the Arctic and Svalbard its animals is possibly unequaled.

Nina’s and Lars’ little ‘cottage’, which she generously invited us to use in the summer of 1984.

The spouses had changed over the years — musical spouses, as John says — but the people were the same. Inger had first been  married to Lars Åby, but now Nina was his wife. 

Nina, who was always very generous, invited us one evening when we had dinner with her in a restaurant in Paris to come — with friends — and stay in Löa in the summer. The house where we were staying turned out to be hers and husband Lars’ “honeymoon cottage”, gorgeously situated on the little river that flows by this ‘cottage’ (to use Lennart’s word) to end up in Glatjärn in front of our friend Inger’s fairy-tale house. With her invitation Nina sowed a seed in our minds, and the outcome was a minor invasion in the summer by us and friends the Porta family, plus François, the son of other very good friends.

The cozy living room (with two beds). Our hostess, Nina is showing slightly on the left. Lennart and young Frabçois on the right. A truly Swedish interior.

Our welcome was fabulous. Dinner at Lennart’s and Maria’s house and two of Lennart’s children were there, Nina lent us her “honeymoon” house on the little river, and there was even a tiny tent-like house where Jean and Danièle slept. In the house there were two rooms and a kitchen

We were invited to Nina’s house a couple of times for sumptuous dinners (loose, I think) and, for all their generosity, we invited our friends to the one good restaurant in the neighborhood, Värdshuset Älgen (= the Moose Inn). Before setting out on our way back to Löa, Nina warned us about police controls. She said we must take la route du cognac which was never checked, a little back-road that few people ever traveled on. Nina speaks French and after the restaurant I thought she and Jean would never stop chatting and let John and me go to bed . Our beds were in the living room. The boys slept in bunk-beds in the second room.

In Nina’s house we watched some of her own and Lars’ television movies, nature and environment movies, the environmental movies by Nina herself and some movies of polar bears and the Arctic by her husband, Lars Åby, who was on Svalbard when we were in Löa.

After this superb visit to what I find to be just about the most beautiful region in Sweden, we parted from les Porta. They went back to France and John and I, after a couple of stops in southern Sweden, went on through Germany to Brand. It was to be our fifth summer in Brand. The energy.

ContinuedChapter 24   An active year with John in New Rochelle