It 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.