I am accustomed to being questioned about the Finnish language. Is it similar to Swedish? Is it as difficult to learn as they say? Say something in Finnish! So, here I explain why Finnish is so weird (even to its neighbours), so difficult, and reveal a possible solution to our excellent levels of literacy. Continue reading “A Few Facts about Finnish”
In Helsinki two thirds of Christmases are white. In Belgium there have been 11 white Christmases since 1900, most recently in 1986, 2009 and 2010. And judging by the weather forecasts this year will be a typical grey and dreary holiday in Belgium. Continue reading “Lumi is Finnish for Snow”
I miss winter.
I miss the silence of my steps on a snow covered pavement. I miss the hard lumps of snow on my mittens, and the way they turn into pearls of water on the radiator. I miss the biting chill on my cheeks and the hurried steps through the cold. I miss the warmth of reaching home.
Here I latch on to the smallest indications of winter; a spreading darkness, the falling leaves, my breath white in the still morning air. A cold clear day, when the wind blows from the north-east and brings the scent of snow from inland, with images of evergreens coated in white and the sound of fresh snow under my feet.
I despise the wet excuse for a winter here. The endless drizzle that penetrates all my defenses. The moist shivery cold that makes my teeth clatter. The all-encompassing grayness of the world. My pathetic squeals of delight when some sleet descends mercifully from the sky, to give the world some magic for an hour or two before melting into grayness.
I wish I was in Helsinki, with electric candelabras in every window and the anticipation of Christmas tangible in the air. We would sit down for some tea and maybe a Christmas pastry or a pipakarkku. My hair floating with static electricity as I pull off my woolen cap and my fingers aching as they close around the heat of the tea mug. My sister’s cheeks red from the cold and her face shining with pleasure as she bites into a ginger snap.
And I miss my mother. I miss the simple things, like coming home in the evening after Christmas shopping, making tea in the coffee percolator while mother smokes on the balcony. I miss the smell of her cooking and her humming as she does the dishes. More than anything I wish that I was back home and that she was there.
I tend to get exited about winter. But there is always some falseness to the expectation. I cover up the fact that nothing is as it should be. There is no real winter, no snow, no proper Christmas. My mother is not here and without her there is an emptiness that cannot be filled, even if I have all the other things I wish for.
22-28 July 2013
At 6 o’clock on Monday evening I arrive back in Helsinki which I left a week earlier. Helsinki is the city where I grew up, except for my 3 earliest years when we lived in Vantaa, and it holds many precious memories for me. Technically I am not staying in Helsinki, since my aunt Pirkko (my mother’s other sister) lives in Espoo (part of the Capital Region), but it is Helsinki I have come to see. After my week of train travel I am happy to step off my final train for this holiday and settle my things at Pirkko’s place for a week. But no travel does not mean I do not have a busy schedule. Continue reading “A Fortnight in Finland: Helsinki”
20-22 July 2013
I am travelling to Turku to visit my godson Viljam and his family. Viljam, who is turning 13 in August, is the son of my cousin and godmother Tiina, the oldest of aunt Sirkka’s 4 daughters. Living in Belgium I do not get to see him very often, and a trip to Turku is a must for my holiday in Finland. Continue reading “A Fortnight in Finland: Turku”
The trip to Kokkola is quite exhausting since I have to take 3 different trains. Luckily the trains in Finland wait for delayed connecting trains, and I make it to Kokkola station by 20.00. I am on my way to the summer home of my father’s side of the family. Continue reading “A Fortnight in Finland: Kokkola”
15-17 July 2013
The day following my arrival in Finland I get on a train headed for Kuopio, my mother’s home town. Kuopio is a town with a population of about 100 000, which is located 400 kilometres north of Helsinki. As a child I visited my grandmother in Kuopio once a year, but in later years my visits where always during winter, and it must be 20 years since I last visited the town during summer time. Continue reading “A Fortnight in Finland: Kuopio”
On 14 July I landed in Finland, sometimes called the land of a thousand lakes. The map above might give you an idea why. Continue reading “A Fortnight in Finland: The Itinerary”
As promised I will belatedly post some of my impressions and experiences from my trip to Finland. As my holidays are coming to to an end I have finally had some time to create posts out of the notes I have been taking along the way. Continue reading “A Fortnight in Finland: The Flight”