In the South East of Sweden, there’s a place called Haväng “sea pasture.” It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. Rolling grasslands gently slopes down to a fifty-kilometer-long beach along the Baltic Sea.
Historically preserved half-timbered farms with thatched roofs dot the landscape, as does a 5500 year old Megalith Grave overlooking the sea and the majestic Stenshuvud “stone head” hill.
One of these historical farms is a hostel, and last summer my husband and I stayed there for a few days. It was a very tough time for me as my dad’s long struggle with COPD was coming to an end. Running helped me cope, just as it did when my mother died five years prior.
Down the road from the hostel is a dirt road that leads straight into the wide-open grasslands where cows, horses and sheep roam free. No gate stops you, only a cattle-grid across the road and then you’re surrounded by herds of animals as if in the wild.
I almost turned around after I made my careful way across the grid and found several enormous cows on each side of the road where I would run.
Christel, the hostess at the hostel, walks there alone every morning so with that in mind I swallowed my fear and continued running. I kept a respectful distance as the animals silently observed me, completely unfazed by a lonely running human in their midst.
They stood or lay down right next to the road, walked across it in front of me, or ran along the road beside me.
It’s easy to forget how large cows and horses are, but let me tell you, they’re enormous! I was on their turf here and I was still a little afraid of them.
Soon though, my fear changed into amazement as I ran further and further into the landscape.
The further I went, the more amazing I felt. It was a cloudy day with thick grey clouds and that special light that you only get from dark clouds that aren’t in a hurry to let the rain go yet. Heather and yellow wildflowers shone in that light. It was a little like I imagine the Serengeti to be, only with different animals. Horses galloped past me, the air was full of the sounds of bleating sheep. Tears were streaming down my face at the pure beauty of this place, and for dad.
I don’t know how far I ran, or for how long, but I could have kept going forever and I will never forget this day.