Meet a modern-day Pippi Longstocking: she shares her small, traditional red and white timber house in the wilderness of the south of Sweden with five cats and one dog, Stanley. Two rams live outside, along with the occasional elk. She climbs trees, works with an axe and a chainsaw, has no fear of anything or anyone. Arborist Viktoria Carstens invites us to step into her exciting world.
With her piercing, sparkling eyes, freckles, and two red pigtails poking out from underneath her helmet, she looks a bit like a modern-day version of Pippi Longstocking, the most famous creation of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Viktoria Carstens enjoys climbing trees – another trait she shares with Pippi. But this 27-year-old does not climb trees just for fun. She is a professional arborist.
Like Pippi, Viktoria is also adventurous, brave, and strong. She lives alone in a small, traditional red and white timber house at the edge of the forest somewhere in the wild south of Sweden. She has to drive half an hour – in either direction – to reach the nearest shop. She has electricity and an internet connection, but no running water. The toilet is outside. The pipes freeze up in winter. “Nobody would want to live here,” she says with a mischievous grin, and shrugs her shoulders. Nobody apart from her, that is. “Hackabäck,” as she calls her house, is a little piece of paradise for her, and she shares it with five cats, her dog Stanley, and two rams. Every now and then, an elk will make an appearance and have a look from a safe distance. There is a tool shed right beside the house, where Viktoria stores “her treasure.” By this, she means countless chainsaws, axes, tools of all kinds, and of course her equipment, which she needs to reach and work at dizzying heights. Her equipment includes a special harness, which weighs four to five kilos and is full of carabiners and rope. It looks like a mountaineer’s climbing gear and is a vital piece of safety equipment for an arborist like her.