Suomi for the senses
Suomi is the Finnish word for Finland, where I am currently visiting my mother and my family. I am mostly away from internet access, but sneaking in a post here and there because it’s about time I put some of these observations into words – difficult as that is – because Finland must be felt. But I’ll try, and I hope you enjoy it.
There are slim evergreen trees as far as the eye can see. The ground around them, though covered in low bushes and flowers, is otherwise nearly clear, almost graspable by the human mind. It is a stark contrast to the rain forests of the West Coast where life grows on top of life, filling every crevice, filling all your senses. Here life is more humble; it knows its limits.
Only a few minutes into the forest we spot our first reindeer but they quickly scurry across the path and out of sight. They aren’t always so quick to move – childhood Nina had to do quite a bit of intimidating running and flailing to get them to move their lazy lumbering bodies from behind my grandmother’s house.
And for no other reason than childish joy at interacting with nature, of course.
The air feels cool against my skin; you can tell fall is already settling in. It carries the familiar smell of leaves and earth. The ground is covered in a red carpet of not-quite-ripe lingonberries – in another few weeks my mom will walk through here again, filling endless buckets with them, filling her freezer with summer. There are blueberries too though you have to look a bit harder for them – you can tell this hasn’t been their year – but soon our fingers are covered in their reddish stains anyway.
All the wild berries here are tiny compared to the ones I am now used to but eating them makes you immediately realize that the large factory-farm versions are a complete farce. This is what a berry tastes like.
Every once in a while, I’ll see something that tweaks memories of a long-forgotten knowledge. Simple truths I once took for granted just as easily as the knowledge that the sky is blue. Like the tall bush with the bunches of red berries? Robins eat those in the winter. I would watch them from my grandmother’s kitchen window. Or that the ditch in front of the sauna has tons of little tiny frogs, but to see them you have to crouch down really low and wait patiently until you spot one jumping.
Or that the mosquitoes here are on steroids. As I watch the red, itchy lump on my wrist growing – and then growing some more – it really starts to feel like I’m home.
And with that, I’m disappearing back into radio silence again.