Everyday kindness

gumtree.jpgIt will soon be four months since we arrived in Sweden. The light and warmth of summer has slipped into the dreary darkness of winter, although the temperature has remained unseasonably high for the time of year. Except for the week we went north to Orsa when the air temperature slipped below zero and snow fell on Dalarna and northwards to the arctic.


Soon after we arrived in Örebro some neighbours brought us a gift – a gum tree! Yes a real eucalypt from downunder. Bosse had grown it from a seed which he had bought in a packet from a gardening website. He has three or four others at home in pots. He thought it might remind me of home, and he was right! I was struck by his kindness toward people he had never met.

The first month or so I kept the little tree outside on the front verandah, but I noticed after a while that the leaves were looking a bit dry and crinkly despite regular watering. I guessed it was getting too cold and brought it into the kitchen. But the weeks passed and if anything the plant looked worse and worse. When pinched the leaves crumbled and fell to the ground. One of the three slender stems became denuded of leaves. The other two looked unhealthy. The tree looked sad and lost.

With temperatures between plus five and ten this last week I decided to move the tree back to the verandah. I noticed it just now when I returned from the supermarket shopping. Still looking sad, but perhaps the leaves at the base are coming to life again. Who knows whether the spark of life still remains?

I can’t help feeling that the tree reflects my state of mind at the moment. Transplanted from its native land and struggling to get going in new and unfamiliar territory. Although right now, had it fallen to the earth in Australia it might have withered in the tremendous heat or been burnt to a cinder in a raging bushfire, so perhaps it is better off here, despite the cold and dark.

I have a sense that we will both survive, both the gum tree and me, that once we adjust to different conditions we will not just survive but thrive. For now, the tree, even in its withered state, is a daily reminder of the everyday kindness of new friends while we struggle to find our place here in Sweden.


2 thoughts on “Everyday kindness

  1. Sorry David, for turning you down at the supper in church this evening. Hope I can be more welcoming another time. Please do not allow this hostile Swedish environment having the same effect on you as it has on your gum-tree. Do not give up. We may be difficult to start with, but there are more sides to Swedish people…
    Erik Johansson

  2. Dear David & family,
    It is a hot north wind day here as I write. I am in the process propagating 500 native trees for ‘trees for life’, some to replace those lost in the recent bushfire and others to revegitate landowners properties impoverished by years of unwise farming practice. Currently we are experiencing drought conditions so I don’t know how these little trees will survive but they have been especially selected to grow in this region from seeds collected in the district. Although your eucalypt has been transplanted, they are a hardy species that regenerate after drought, fire, renew the soil, provide shade, a home for native birds and animals and shed seeds ready for the next generation. Be as kind to yourself as you are to that eucalypt!
    Take care, love Meredith and family

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