Found at: Coop
When I was a tween, I went with my family on a hiking trip in Sweden.
It is possibly the most privileged thing I’ve ever done, and it was marvelous. I’d always wanted to go to Europe – I’d hassled my parents for years about it – but we were a family of four with two dogs, two guinea pigs, a cat, a mortgage, a remodel, and student loan debt. That my parents found the money for an overseas trip is a miracle of accounting that I still can’t fully understand. But somehow, we did it – and it is one of the defining memories of my youth.
In discount Birkenstocks, my brother, two young family friends, and I raced along the thin planks that spanned the bogs and the permafrost and the delicate ecosystems of the North. We saw reindeer and unlocked skiing shelters and glacier-fed lakes full of fish and streams of pure water, and a sun that did not set in summer. And most importantly, a Polish graduate student with a magic backpack.
Whenever we stopped for a rest, “Speedy” (as we called him) would take off his backpack and open up a side pocket to reveal a cache of Marabou chocolate, which he would distribute amongst the four of us kids. Then, once the sugar-rush had set in, we would bolt off into nature, running and giggling until the high eventually wore off. Then, when we were at our most sluggish and whiny – and the adults caught up – the bag would be re-opened and the yellow and red chocolates would be distributed again. And somehow, in our two weeks of hiking, the bag never ran dry. Speedy always had chocolate, and we always had energy.
Now, whenever I taste this smooth, milk-chocolate that is a standard in Sweden, I think about Speedy. I remember the delight in that simplest of magic tricks and I wonder how many chocolate bars he must have packed before we left. And I hope, one day, that I too can be the bearer of a magic bag of Marabou – though I’d probably eat them all myself.