Welcome to an idyllic countryside
The narrative tradition in Västerbotten is deeply rooted in the grandiose nature. We can never write enough about how genuine it is, and these words can never really justify it. But in order to understand you may have to visit the various places where the authors grew up, see what it’s like to put stories together. Sara Lidman, P.O Enqvist and Torgny Lindgren can be seen as some of the greatest. Their words took them out into the world from a remote countryside, translated into several languages and with texts that are still as popular today. One can only wonder what the air is made of here?
Malin Wallin welcomes us when we arrive on a sunny but chilly day in June. The impressive stove in the room is heated and coffee cups are out. The room is beautifully decorated and Torgny is present everywhere with quotes from his books on the walls. In an hour, a bus full of happy pensioners from Skellefteå will arrive. Malin lives in this idyllic village with her partner and their two children. They run a small pig breeding farm on the side of their other jobs. 45 people currently live in the village, of whom 13 are children. Malin thinks it’s a great environment to grow up in, given that there are so many families with children who moved there. The town hall of Raggsjöliden is not only dedicated to Torgny Lindgren, but also to community gatherings, christenings, weddings and other family gatherings.
Malin has worked in Raggsjöliden with Torgny Lindgren’s Literary Landscape for about six months. She and her sister Anna are making coffee in the kitchen before the guests arrive. They will be invited for coffee and sandwiches. “Guiding is my favourite thing”, she says. “People are so interesting, and just getting to meet people from all sorts of places is amazingly fun. I used to work in the Underground Church and I loved it.”
When the guests arrive, everything runs like clockwork, and Malin looks like she enjoys what she’s doing. A coffee and a fika later, Malin begins to talk about the history of Raggsjöliden. Films are shown, and Torgny’s voice reads different works. The senior citizens listen, interested, and a shy laugh is heard every now and then when Torgny tells little anecdotes in his own dialect. It feels like it is with reverence and respect that everyone listens to the voice. ”Plåtsax – hjärtats instrument” (metal shears – the instrument of the heart), ”He jer som he jer” (It is like it is), och ”I er så lat” (I am so lazy) are sentences that make us smile. Torgny’s texts are characterized by philosophy and great thinking about life – something we can all relate to.
When the stories about Torgny have been told, we carry on to Farmorsstugan “the Grandmother’s Cottage”. The cottage itself is actually the whole origin of Torgny Lindgren’s Literary Landscape. It was in 2002 when Torgny came up to hold a small lecture, in connection with the release of Pölsan, that he saw that his grandmother’s summer house was crumbling. At the time it was a run-down hen house and Torgny wished for it to be torn down. It was restored by Irving Hansson, and then Birgit Andersson made a preliminary study about a potential project about Torgny and his authorship in Raggsjö. It became a tourist attraction and opened in 2011. The little red cottage is in an idyllic spot right next to a summer meadow, and one can only imagine a summer vacation here. Other places to visit in Raggsjö include: Oxkallkällan, Grobb Janis and Torgny’s childhood home. Every place has its own story and they come together to make one wonderful tourist attraction.
All in all, it has been a very enriching experience in Raggsjöliden and the feelings we have gained from it are pride and joy – both from Torgny Lindgren’s work and Malin Wallin’s sparkling energy. The small village of Raggsjöliden has left an admirably welcoming impression. In the deep forests of Västerbotten lies a fantastic treasure: the art of storytelling.