I hopped on my bike and went to Rungstedlund

Every summer I live a fifteen minute bicycle ride from the home of one of Denmarks more famous authors, Karen Blixen - or Isak Dinesen, as I think she is mainly known as, in the English speaking countries. It is a small country estate, Rungstedlund, that belonged to her family, and was her childhood home - as well as her home when she returned from Kenya, from 1931 until her death in 1962. Her grave is in the park there.

Photo: Erik K. Abrahamsen

I have read a lot of her books, and when I was young I especially enjoyed her stories. Finally wisiting her home the other day, now a museum in her honor, made me feel like rereading her work, but today I think I would read her letters from Africa - I always wanted to read those, but I kind of forgot about her, a bit. 

She was a very unusual and fascinating woman, a feminist in her day, a very rebellious and not very typical aristocrat - but also a haunted woman who suffered some very painful losses in her life. She had the idea, that for those losses, she was given the gift of storytelling, in a pact with the devil. 

She also got to hang out with Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe and Carson McCullers
(in 1959 - and here is a funny description of that lunch party - Photo: Rungdstedlund)

The house is small and exquisite, and her great passion for making strange and wild floral arrangements, is being kept alive by volunteers, who fill the rooms with flowers, greens and basically anything that grows, year round - in her particular and very well documented style. Her friend, the architect Steen Eiler Rasmussen, took photographs of them, and even dedicated a whole book to the subject.

Karen Blixen and an explosion of tulips (Photo: Steen Eiler Rasmussen / Rungstedlund)

A pretty place to visit, if you have read her work, I would say. And you should, it is worth the effort. It is not prose you read in a hurry, or as light entertainment - her style is abundant, exotic, meandering, and you need to be a bit patient, when you embark on her stories. But I have gotten swept away, again and again. I love this collection of stories: Winter's Tales - and of course her most famous: Seven Gothic Tales. Out of Africa is a wonderful read as well.

Here are some of my impressions of the place..... (PS: it also has a nice café, so stop by for coffee!)

Karens avant garde flowers - a bouquet with asparagus berries! / Her work room / I love that little African stool / Karen in the work room, tapping away on her tiny, old Corona
(last photo courtesy of Rungstedlund)

More flowers / the park has some nice wild, rambling bits / Karen Blixen by a sundial in the park  (photo courtesy of Rungstedlund) / The caption on the sundial says: 'No shade without light'

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