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Anna Lena in the kitchen with her fresh flowers

(Post 3 of 4)

Anna Lena Ekeblad has been living in Longyearbyen for 20 years, and she received us in her home today. She buys fresh flowers every week. While we visited over coffee and cinnamon buns, her kids (Erik and Mia) and their friends ran in and out, and the doorbell rang three times.

She first arrived into town on a boat. “After a few hours here, I felt a mix of religion and love. It was a feeling of coming home. Okay, this is it,” she thought, “It was like really falling crazily in love. Still, every day when I go out on the balcony, I’m fascinated and happy to be here. I have a passion for this country.” Anna Lena told us many stories about family life here. How the kids ski, skate, bicycle and play out all the time, and also how they know to run to the nearest house if they see a polar bear or hear shots fired.

When her daughter went south at age one she was afraid of the grass and bewildered by the bird song. “The kids can’t climb in trees, but they know everything about ice.” Many people leave when their kids become teenagers and need more education. “It’s an artificial society because we are well behaved and well educated. When the problems come, people leave.” So far, she has stayed.

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