When you are in another place, you can take the opportunity to go to flea markets. Unfortunately, temporary roadside flea markets tend to be like tailgate flea markets – mostly junk that people have found in some storage room. Sun-bleached plastic toys, children’s clothes, drifts of ugly flower pots and porcelain gnomes. Not much to pick up there. But the fixed flea markets in smaller towns can be pure goldmines!
In the first flea market, we stopped at during last year’s vacation, I found a hidden, or forgotten, Swedish-Latin lexicon from 1832! In it I can now (extremely carefully) look up nice words such as Littera [letter, word], Meditor [contemplate] and Conservo [maintain]. I imagine this is a book I will get a lot of use out of. Because hand on heart – how many times have you not sat and pondered over a Latin word?

Another find I made was a worn and well-used calendar from 1932, i.e. exactly one hundred years after the Latin lexicon was printed in Orebroæ (Latin for Örebro, I guess). The calendar is filled with small notes from everyday life in the 1930s. There you can read about the weather, crops, diseases, market days, etc. To my great delight, the owner of the calendar has also been a bit personal in his writing, which is not so common. Among other things, it says during the month of May: “Beautiful May, welcome to our village again! May 1, Today I ate roach and potatoes. The first 12 fishers for this year’s fishing.”
I have a slight weakness for old calendars. I periodically look for them at flea markets, preferably the ones with a lot of notes in them. It’s like getting an insight into another person’s life, someone I don’t know and don’t know the name of. It is deeply inspiring!

In fact, this particular calendar was so inspiring that it made me start writing a new text. It was a short (and for now secret) phrase among all the notes that kind of opened up, as only words can sometimes.
You have to take advantage of such opportunities!

Mattias is an author and illustrator

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