Rune Wikström – the fisherman of Möja
Publish date: 18 November 2020
Möja is situated right in the middle of the Stockholm archipelago. The idyllic island only counts 250 year-round residents. Rune Wikström, 78, is one of them. – My mother used to worry about what would become of me, but I've never felt the urge to leave.
The boat cuts through the waves as we're heading towards Möja, one of the islands in the Stockholm archipelago that welcomes visitors year-round. It's the middle of December and the sea is reminiscent of a James Bond cocktail – shaken rather than stirred.
Small red houses for families and boats alike sprinkle the barren cliffs just a few meters from the shoreline. Seagulls escort us to the jetty. We take our first steps in the small village of Ramsmora and Waxholmsbolaget's boat continues its journey to the next island.
We head up the hill towards Möja's famous restaurant Wikströms Fisk. What started as a small open-air venue in 1990 has been a restaurant since the year 2000. The à la carte menu consists of different kinds of fish – smoked, grilled, or poached. The menu changes constantly depending on the catch of the day.
A front-platform moped passes. It's Rune Wikström, the man who started the restaurant together with his wife. Nowadays, Wikströms Fisk is run by his daughter Stina. In a metal-bucket lies the fish he just pulled out of his fishing nets – a considerable load of fresh, shiny herring.
A popular destination for hiking
Möja is a popular destination for hiking and biking. The island has two marked-out nature trails through a forest so old and deep it's often likened to the fairy-tale illustrations of John Bauer. Cars are quite rare and traffic is made up of quads and mopeds.
Rune parks in front of a warning sign for ducks outside his restaurant. A collection of six pairs of skates, rusty and colored green by time and weather, hangs on the wall. They all belong to him.
– I got my first pair of skates when I was four or five years old. Only one pair is missing.
He is interrupted by the rooster – which roams free around the premises – crowing for attention.
The environment makes the mind wander to a long-gone version of Sweden. The five villages – Berg, Löka, Ramsmora, Långvik, and Hamn – are connected with unpaved roads. There are two grocery stores of which only one is during winter. Every visit to the island is conditional to nature and a vast majority of the accommodations, shops, and restaurants are still family-owned.
Rune Wikström stayed true to Möja
Rune Wikström has lived on Möja his entire life. He was born on a bright day in June 1941, 100 meters from where his restaurant stands today. His grandmother was born another 100 meters away, her mother as well.
– I'm the youngest of five siblings. My brothers and sisters moved away, one after another, and my mother thought it was time for me to leave the island as well.
But he never did. However, his mother's concern for what he would become turned out to be unnecessary. Rune may have stayed true to his island, but that didn't stop him from having a career and becoming a member of parliament. For eight years, he was a part of the environment and agriculture committee and engaged in issues related to fishing and sparse areas.
– But the fishing always came first, he admits.
Today, he is one of two professional fishermen left on the island. The fact that he reached retirement age over a decade ago doesn't become him. He has been married to his wife Ingalill since 1962 and has also been faithful to his boat Kajsa since 1964.
– Every year from April 15 I leave home about 4:30 pm and return about 8:30 am the next day. I live on the boat seven days a week and don't sleep at home for one single night until September 15, he says.
Möja now and then
Even though Möja feels like Sweden in the old days, things have changed here as well. Today, it attracts visitors wanting to explore the archipelago and combine active days with starry nights. In the 1940s the island was famous for its many strawberry fields. But they, like the many fishermen, have disappeared and made space for an increased number of holiday homes.
– Back in the days we used to rent out our house during summer and slept in the barn, Rune remembers.
It's time for him to take care of the fish before the restaurant opens for dinner. As we say goodbye, Rune gives his opinion of the best time to visit Möja.
– In May, or the beginning of June, when it's still off-season and everything is bright and green.
We head down to the jetty and await the ferry back into Stockholm. A quote is carved into the wooden bench by the water in Ramsmora:
Waiting time is time you have been given
That’s when you get time to think
A thoughtful quote in a time when we’re all stressing through life just to get some more time.