This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Leaving

lauttasaari-1Dear Lauttasaari island, you have been good to me. You have been my safe haven for years. A place to hide and to just stare at the (mostly windy) sea.

It is difficult to live in a landlocked place, away from the sea. I have done it twice and I will be doing it again. All three times have also been the three times I have lived abroad.

I have also lived in two relatively rainy, wet places: the UK and the Netherlands. Now I intend to try out another rainy (and this time windy, too) place: a little town in the middle of Denmark. For how long? For now.lauttasaari-2Dear Lauttasaari, I will miss your sea, sunshine, and the vast open space. The ships leaving for various Baltic port cities, and the sound of broken ice blocks floating on the water in spring.

But life plays out in seasons and no matter how well one plans, the beginning of the next season always comes with a twist. Growth does not take place when we feel comfortable and set in our routines. And so I intend to break my routines big time, hoping that growth will follow with equal measure.Larubynight(Helsinki, Finland; August 2018)


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A wooden town

porvooPerhaps once this was a busy street, crowded with horse-drawn carriages, pedestrians in fine suits and long dresses, and dogs and children running around? Now it is simply quiet and idyllic, with greens shooting up between the cobblestones that get to rest most of the day.

Porvoo was founded in the 13th century but has probably burned down many times since. Most of the houses currently standing are from the 19th century. As it is once again fashionable to cherish old houses, perhaps these houses could survive longer than most wooden buildings used to do (before they happened to burn down into ashes)?

(Porvoo old town, Finland; July 2018)


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In the garden

Loviisa

As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade
To all the noises that my garden made,
It seemed to me only proper that words
Should be withheld from vegetables and birds.

A robin with no Christian name ran through
The Robin-Anthem which was all it knew,
And rustling flowers for some third party waited
To say which pairs, if any, should get mated.

Not one of them was capable of lying,
There was not one which knew that it was dying
Or could have with a rhythm or a rhyme
Assumed responsibility for time.

Let them leave language to their lonely betters
Who count some days and long for certain letters;
We, too, make noises when we laugh or weep:
Words are for those with promises to keep.

(W. H. Auden)

(Loviisa, Finland; June 2018)


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The emperor’s fishing hideaway

koskimaja-4Once upon a time, a young crown prince went salmon fishing by a whitewater surrounded by scraggly old pines and water-polished rocks. He discovered he could wade between a number of little islets, surrounded by foamy flying currents and leaping salmon. After just a day he and his princess were in love with the rugged place, one that was Nature’s own and nobody else’s. koskimaja-1Years later, the crown prince returned, now as the Emperor of Russia. He rediscovered his love for the wilderness and said, “let us build a house for us. Let it be a simple, wooden fishing cottage. Let it be a Finnish house on Finnish grand duchy soil, for the Russian emperor to be.”koskimaja-2And so the house was built as were the wishes of the crown prince. It was simple but of skilled making, and out of the best materials. There was a kitchen – and to the horror of the staff, the Empress Maria Feodorovna cooked in the kitchen with her own bare white hands. There were beds upstairs – but whether anybody slept in them overnight is not known, as the Emperor’s fleet was moored right beyond the last bend of the river, by the coast. The Emperor is rumored to have chopped his own firewood – also quite unheard of. But then again, who would hear or care? Such things are what hideaways are for. Even for the greatest of royalty.
koskimaja-3(Langinkoski, Kotka, Finland; June 2018)


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New skin on old bones

Oldhouse-1The long, wooden house stood by itself in an overgrown meadow of high grass and flowers, shyly exhibiting brand new walls painted red, sparkling white corner posts, and a sturdy, new roof. Why shyly? Because its exterior was nearly 300 years younger than its timber construction. It is not with complete comfort that one bears new clothes after loving one’s only outfit for centuries. Oldhouse-3My great-grandfather and great-grand uncle were born in this house. They were not born in this meadow though. Before the house was dressed in new clothes, it was dismantled, every log and plank numbered, carried a few dozen kilometers further, and built up again from scratch. Why? Because someone thought it was a valuable piece of history and should be kept under a watchful eye.

Other generations could be born in this house. The timber walls are dry and healthy. The moss and flax fiber insulation between the logs is only a few decades old. The windows are new. All that is needed is lots of love and care – and a little imagination.
Oldhouse-2(Pernaja, Finland; June 2018)


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Gamle Stavanger

Stavanger-2Stavanger is surprisingly quaint, and somehow a little whimsical, too. I never thought this town would consist of white, impeccably restored cottages. Pink roses seem to be a popular gardener choice.

As I walked along the narrow cobblestone streets I thought I was in a story book by Swedish Astrid Lindgren, not in an actual fishing town in Southern Norway. Stavanger-3(Stavanger, Norway; June 2018)