Break of dawn

October 4, 2017

– Gotland Workshop –

Part 3 of 3

It was a misty morning when we headed to Bottarver Garden. Across the blurred window, the tall grass danced at the sound of the wind and the landscape painted the scene with quaint farms and ancient mills.

Bottarver Garden is the epitome of the Swedish history. You could say it is one of those places that stood still over the centuries, sheltered from the times we briskly live in. The farm museum was a representation of weathered generations. The chambers, carefully decorated to embody that aged feeling, were at our disposition to walk around, move and make our own. So I played around with pots, pans, and aged bentos. I and Kati did, at some point, our very own version of a farm setting, photographing it as a book memoir of some kind.

Olivia set a table for a demonstration of her plants. She is kind of a nature wizard: her knowledge about the plants, roots, and scents is absolutely incredible (I believe it is not the first time I have said this). She told us about foraging, preserving and how to use them to your benefit. It is really eye-opening to understand how sustenance can grow around you while you are not looking.

It is something that forever changed my relationship with food and I only wish I could learn more with Olivia in the future. I would gladly become her nature apprentice!

The day followed with the slowness it demanded and the rain threatened to besprinkle the green fields while Krissy styled a picnic table outside. Using the textures and props from the farm, she composed a story of comfort foods around a table where we would all coalesce. The weather did not comply though! As soon as she was over styling the set, a few showers cast it and we were left with just a few moments to take a snap and imagine how nice it would have been to have sat there and laugh over lunch. Instead, we ran inside, carrying what we had in our arms and invaded the parlor with baskets and towels. We then enjoyed it as it was meant to be. Somehow, all those delicacies, sprinkled with drops of water, tasted heavenly – as if the experience of running around in the rain added up to the already amazing flavors. We spent the afternoon around prodigious foods like that provincial tomato tart, pinky beet salad, and the cheeses. And always finding enjoyment in the simplest things.

Back home, we relaxed over a cup of coffee, wine, and warm chats. Krissy lifted the veil behind her Lightroom secrets and Olivia directed a workshop on how to do your own natural soaps and lip balms using coconut butter, beeswax, and other goodies.

Outside, the day started slipping away, welcoming the night and the melancholy of realizing that this was the last night we would all spend together in this abode we built.

I always grief over anticipation. It is difficult for me to let go of something so special, that feels so much like home, and to people that I have come to know and cherish.

The last supper was held in the dining room, over a fuzzy candlelight and smiles. The feast contemplated one of the best ever butter fried gnocchi accompanied with grilled plums and burrata.

We talked about social media, our frustrations, and achievements. Enumerated people whose work inspired us and endorsed new emerging ones. We said goodbye to Sam, who had to leave a day early and closed for the night, a little bit saddened, a little bit fulfilled, a little bit overwhelmed.

The last day woke me up from a dream of endless days enjoying Gotland and delaying me from getting back home. I packed my bag – that had finally arrived the day before – and came down, taking my time, dragging my body and thoughts.

I had a morning appointment with Krissy and Olivia, to talk about my expectations, my work and everything in between. It is great to see the perception of other people of your own struggles, especially those whose work you have been admiring for so long. To hear their thoughts and validations, makes you want to test yourself; makes you want to go that extra mile and exceed your own outlook.

The hours passed fugaciously while Linda prepared a banquet of cakes to commemorate the occasion. Krissy styled a table of cheeses and rose wine, bringing a little light to an unwieldy day. I grabbed my camera and framed those last moments, worrying if there was something I had missed in this short-lived farm, as if time could cloud my memories and I would not be able to recreate it by heart.

I moved around to detail the trees, the way the shadows dress the walls and the wind made that swing rock. I retained the colors of the doors and the gestures of my new (now) friends. Thankfully, Linda called for me, relieving me from this brooding.

The feast was starting in the gazebo with a table of the most unbelievable cakes I have ever seen. They all spoke of childhood memories, joy and friendship altogether. The light coming from the wooden framed windows illuminated the plates one at a time, giving them the attention each deserved. Meanwhile, Linda poured caramel with the smoothness that only she has mastered. The white linens and white frostings, combined with the sharp nordic light, put in evidence the blissful moments we shared all those days.

After some tasting, it was time for goodbyes.

I put on my cheerful countenance and told a joke or two to temper my doleful soul. Embracing my friends, I made promises of future visits and new memories and took one last look around before parting from one of the most happy places I have had the pleasure to live in. Everything there was meticulously designed to change you, bring out the best in you, shake you inside and wake you up from the containment you have put yourself into. And that is priceless.

I came to this workshop as an adventurous at heart, not knowing what I would take with me. I always had the feeling that I was meant to change something in people’s lives. I knew I would never invent a cure for something rare nor find a quicker way to travel the universe, but I perceive some joy in finding the poetry of simple things; in creating beautiful worlds where people can escape to; and maybe that is my trait.

I find out I am writing a visual story where I am not myself but instead a creation of someone better, more delicate and inspiring. A vision of her – being her my better self.

Final Notes:

Thank you Live @melgarden, Jen @jen_hamburg, Kati @blackwhitevivid, Sara @shisodelicious, Eleni @thefoodiecorner and Aslaug @aslaugsnorra for your creativity and joy; for sharing your knowledge and being so kind.
To Sam @thebotanicalkitchen, my life doppelgänger: you are pure light, my dear friend.
To Linda @linda_lomelino, so sweet, caring and humble, you make it even more easy to admire you.
To Krissy @cottagefarm, always so calm and sharp, I do not believe I have ever encountered someone that gets me like you do. I am forever glad to have met you.
To Olivia @adelasterfoodtextures, for making me dream, every day, for believing in me when few did and for being one of the most talented people I have ever met.
To you all for making it worth it! Every picture, every minute, every breath.

– A

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  • Reply Sophie Fehrenbach October 4, 2017 at 18:08

    Amazing adventure. All your photos are gorgeous !

    • Reply Ana Zilhão October 4, 2017 at 22:33

      Thank you sweet Sophie for stopping by! It was definitely an adventure that I recommend everyone taking! It’s a life changer.

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