Having returned from Sweden, it was onwards to visit relatives at their own summer retreat. Atypically for a summer house in the land of a thousand lakes, it is located by a river, or maybe better a brook. Clear, cool, flowing water that snakes by woods and fields. They have turned their riverside property into a garden and a more or less permanent residence. There’s space here, green grass, growing fruit and vegetables and flowers and an assortment of buildings – testament to the Finnish tendency to make use of the vast countryside and just build a new house, barn, shed, or other building when the main house won’t do any longer.
Farther to the East, this part of the country feels more rough and tumble. Bears roam these woods, and gravel roads lead to still active farms. Local fishermen get their wares directly from the lakes, and they are smoked in little outside ovens that need stoking and tending to, and the bales of hay staked by the side of the road in the old fashioned way remind you of the passing of time, and how late in summer it has gotten. The ground had remained wet that year, and mushrooms sprouted in small fields hidden just out of view behind rocks or fallen tree stumps. We picked them in our hats because we had not anticipated such bounty, and made them into a meal with cream and spices and small potatoes.
This was not a new place to me, but a place to which I liked to return. The words that come to me writing about it are few, but they seem to be the right ones: calm, remote, lush, happy. Content.