Monday, October 5, 2009

Going Once...Going Twice...

It's really autumnal in Sweden right now--crisp air, changing leaves, the whole bit. So Jan and I spent the weekend out at the country house, and it's a lucky thing, too:

We had forgotten, but Sunday was the auction date for the farm estate at the end of our road. Tragically, the farmer had killed himself on Midsummer's Eve, and he apparently didn't have any heirs. We didn't really know the man, we had only ordered firewood from him once, but we saw how carefully he had cared for his extensive property--which at this point has become mostly a parking lot for island-dwellers who take the ferry nearby.

In any case, and despite a sudden cold, this was my chance to see a Swedish country auction in action. I have seen and participated in auctions in Sweden before--Metropol and Kronofogden, for example--but never one like this. Many of the people there were our neighbors, so in my cough-drop-addled state, it was hard to decide if this was a disturbing moment of long-awaited scavenging, or a comforting attempt to have the farmer's heirloom possessions spread as locally as possible.

His various buildings were like museums--barely anything had changed in at least fifty years, from the looks of things. Yet it was all tidily cared for--even the antique toys had their original boxes, in mint condition. The spread of objects constituted a revealing, deeply personal look at the farmer's life, his family, the past. Especially in the context of his suicide--and having almost no information about him--it was both fascinating and depressing to think of what the preservation of objects around him might have meant to him. Were they long-cherished memories of a longed-for era, or oppressive reminders of an inescapable past?

In any case, my morbid musings didn't stop *us* from pillaging his misfortune...

At least the objects will remind Jan and me of him, whatever that's worth...

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