First Persson Singular
with natives like carina, sweden should be billed as the land of the midnight sun
Carina Persson was here. We know because we have the pictures. The restless Swede did deplane in L.A. on her way home to Colorado from New Zealand, where she had flown from Tahiti, where she had flown from Hawaii. It was a rainy day in Los Angeles and she shivered like a bird too early for spring. When she found a friendly fireplace, Carina warmed and talked. "One of the main reasons I started to travel was to get away from the cold winters. In Sweden, the winters are long. People get depressed because it is always gray. There is too much rain and too much gray. It stays gray for weeks and weeks and weeks."
She wasn't despairing, just remembering. Carina is strong. She has been on her own since she left school and family at 17 to make a home for herself in the Swedish countryside outside her childhood home of Hälsingborg. There she fell in love with nature and self-sufficiency. "I think that people are sometimes too dependent on society. There may be times when you need to take care of yourself, and it's a good feeling to know that you're able to."
Carina, currently based in Boulder, Colorado, is a missionary of sorts. A missionary of the earth. She speaks softly -- so softly you have to pay attention. She does not babble. The English language is strange to her. She hasn't the facility to waste words.
"People get sterile in the big cities; everything gets sterile. It loses its life. The more money people have, the more life is lost. Sterile? I don't have many words. I wish I knew a different word. Square. No personality. People should put some fantasy into things."
Her father rebuilds pianos. Carina could, too, if she wanted to. But right now, she wants to travel and read and paint: "Children, mostly, out in nature. I would like to adopt some children someday. From India or Africa -- because that's where they're really suffering." Carina is a serious person. Still, she loves to laugh, to drink champagne, to listen to music. She'll sing Swedish folk songs for you in her tiny, tremulous voice. She will play with you, but she is no plaything. Her concerns are genuine and important to her. She wants her life to have meaning. "I see, when I travel, how people live and whether or not they are happy with the way they live. It's another way of learning for me. I want to translate books. I think that would help people. If I could help people read more good books . . . " Carina trails off. There is just too much to do. "But I think a lot of things are starting to happen. People are starting to think about other things besides making money. They get together and do art. They paint the cities. Help save the old houses. Put more parks in the cities. . . " The thought makes her happy. She sighs deeply and relaxes. "I just think too much sometimes, I guess."
Photography by Kerry Morris, Ken Marcus