I grew up in a small town called Åsele in Swedish Lapland. At the time, there were around 3500 people living within the borders of the local municipal which in area is double the size of the greater London area, which has a population of over 8 million people.
I attended the village school and there were around 40-50 pupils in each year from age 7 to age 16. Now there are only around 1500 people living in Åsele and each year the school is seeing fewer and fewer children. Just like me, young people move away to go and see the world but many return at some point during the year to visit family and friends who are still here.
Every time I arrive back in Åsele, a magical sense of calm fills my body and as I sit on the veranda of my parent’s house and look out over the lake, glittering with the sun’s rays and the green forests surrounding it, like a protective shield, I know that this is the only place in the world where I can fully recharge my batteries and return with a new sense of purpose.
The peace and quiet is palpable and it nearly hurts my ears, like a kind of vacuum, as the silence is so total. There are no planes flying over this part of Sweden, no motorways for hundreds of miles and with a population which gives each person plenty of room to be alone, the energy frequency slows down to a comforting purr. The only sounds that can be heard are those of the bees and birds flying around looking for food and children laughing with delight as they jump into the lake to cool off and play.
I come here at least twice a year and as I grow older, I can understand why many of us who left when we were young, return to live here in our older years. I don’t think you can really appreciate a place like Åsele quite as much as I do now, until you have been somewhere else and experienced a different lifestyle. Or perhaps I wasn't seeing what was right in front of my eyes when I lived here.
There is no place like home, everyone knows that, but my home town Åsele in Swedish Lapland really is heaven on earth!
Kicki Hansard is a member of Doula UK, however any opinions expressed on this blog are personal views and not necessarily the view of Doula UK.