Today’s the autumnal equinox here on the northern hemisphere, and it’s starting to show:
This year looks perhaps – it’s a little too early to tell for sure yet – to be especially vibrant.
I just love fall colors; don’t you?
This winter hasn’t been at all bad, weather- and snow-wise. Nevertheless, I notice myself yearning for warmer temperatures and especially AN END TO THE BLASTED SNOW:
The view above is from yesterday. It started snowing in the morning and continued through afternoon. Bleah. Ohwell; I dare say it’ll end soon enough. In fact, don’t you say in English that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb?
One recent morning when I was preparing to go upstairs to my workroom, I heard a rustling, scraping sound that was quite loud and really close. I lifted my head to see a young male turkey standing on our back deck rail:
He stood there for a few minutes and then re-joined the little flock down on the ground. We’ve been seeing the three of them around quite a bit this winter.
My guess is he was looking for birdseed. Our next-door neighbor has a birdfeeder that the wild turkeys often visit. He doesn’t have any on his deck, though; perhaps this young fella was just overly curious.
Today is the Finnish Independence Day. We’re 101 years old!
As is our custom, I’m lighting two candles.
(In case you’re interested, here are my thoughts on the 100th anniversary.)
The other day I was looking for something completely different in my Flickr albums, when I ran across this image from last year:
It still makes me smile: I just happened to look out the window at a good time to see a wild rabbit taking a sandbath in a shallow depression. The depressions were dug into our yard by a turtle, we think; we see them digging test holes some years. Other years they must be laying eggs somewhere else.
I guess the sand felt cooler to the rabbit than the grass? What an incredible coincidence nonetheless; I’ve never seen a wild bunny do that. It must’ve felt comfortable to have stretched out its back leg(s) like that. Cute attack! 🙂
Here, to celebrate our first centennial, are a few aspects of my Finland. All photos by me unless otherwise mentioned.
My Finland is woods and access to nature
Finland is among the most forested countries in the world, and people inhabiting the area have lived off of its forests for millenia. I really love woods. I would feel exposed without woods around me.
In Finland, nature is incorporated into even the largest cities, and not only as manicured lawns or shrubberies. In addition to national parks, we have relatively untouched areas of nature almost within a stone’s throw from anywhere. And lakes – thousands of lakes.
My Finland invests in infrastructure and future-conscious planning
Multiple modes of transportation are an inseparable part of modern community planning. I’ve been biking to get myself from A to B as long as I can remember, and LOVE the bicycle paths. There’s even wintertime maintenance on them! I also love Finland’s clean, safe, up-to-date public transit. To wit: the metro system in the greater Helsinki region was just extended.
My Finland is multilingual and international
For centuries, Finland was stuck in between and fought over by two larger powers. We were first a part of the Swedish realm, then Russia took over. There’s no denying that Finland is a small country, population-wise, and a small market. That doesn’t stop us from connecting; on the contrary.
Finland is officially bilingual (Finnish and Swedish), and the Sami languages, Karelian, Romani and Finnish sign language have been legally recognized as minority languages. Apart from the newer minority languages, there are also older communities speaking Russian and Tatar, for example. Today, pupils learn the basics of a minimum of three languages besides their native one before they leave elementary school.
I also happen to LOVE the Finnish language. It’s an agglutinative one, which means we can build massive words like mustaviinimarjamehutiivistepullonkorkissanikin (‘also in the cap of my bottle of black currant juice concentrate’), typically spelled as one despite the length. Finnish also employs vowel harmony, which means that for instance the back vowel a cannot appear in the same word as the front vowel ä – but because of agglutination, we can build a compound where both do appear. For example, there’s a (theoretical) word with only one consonant and seven vowels: hääyöaie (‘intention on wedding night’ – can’t really see anyone ever using that in everyday life).
My Finland Reads
Finns love reading, whether it’s newsprint, websites or physical books. Or Donald Duck!
Several Finnish authors have achieved international fame.
My Finland designs beautiful things
Modern Finnish design has made a name for itself. Brands like Marimekko or Iittala and names like Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen are known internationally. I’m partial to jugend (art nouveau / national romanticism) and wood.
My Finland is playful
Finns don’t do just high design, we also allow our humor to blossom – check out, for instance, the huge Posankka statue in Turku that is a hybrid between a marzipan pig and a rubber duck.
We also love games and playing. Recent Finnish game franchise hits include Max Payne and Angry Birds. I sometimes wonder if the speculative genre Finnish weird might have arisen from our tendency to play around with ideas and color outside the lines. Not to mention to innovate!
My Finland invests in technology
Almost as long as there’s been an administrative unit called Finland, it’s been poor. Only after the World Wars did we really start trying to improve our lot, and by and large have succeeded. From Fiskars (which started as a forge in 1649) to Nokia and Linux, to mention but a few examples, for a tiny country we’re doing darn well.
My Finland is unabashedly geeky and nerdy
Since reading is a big pasttime in Finland and since we love our technology, it’s probably no surprise that we have an active SF/F / larp / anime community. Thanks to the efforts of the Finnish fan community plus supporters all around the world, we hosted Worldcon 75 in Helsinki this past August.
My Finland Loves Music
From traditional to tango, from classical to heavy metal – even the combination of the two! – music is everywhere in Finland. I’m not a terribly big fan of classical music, but Jean Sibelius is special. Here’s a version of his Finlandia Hymn by Cantus Vocal Emsemble, with lyrics (I believe) from a Unitarian Universalist hymn book:
The Finlandia Hymn by cantussings
The Eurovision Song Contest is popular, and various folk styles are making a comeback.
Pernilla Karlsson – “När Jag Blundar” (Finland) via escDjpo2012
Ulla Pirttijärvi is one of my favorite Sami vocalists. I’ve also grown to like the combination of traditional yoiks and contemporary music quite a lot.
Ulla Pirttijärvi ~ Lullaby via FamilyOfLightMember
My Finland sauna bathes
Sauna is the only truly wide-spread Finnish word. We have sauna often, sometimes multiple times a week, and many people still make their own sauna whisks.
My Finland cares
Finland is not perfect, but by and large we take care of each other. Finland’s women gained the right to vote first in Europe, in 1906. In the first elections where women were allowed to vote they were also allowed ro run for office; we elected 19 female members of parliament that year. We’ve already had one female President. (High time for another!)
This year we legalized same-sex marriage and are experimenting with universal basic income. There’s still plenty to do, for instance abolishing the mandatory sterilization of trans people, reversing the trend of cutting from the care of the disabled and the old, trying to reduce domestic abuse and making sure the social security nets already in place hold.
In my Finland, there’s space to be who you are.
Usually we’re not ready for Christmas by the time December rolls around, but this year has been different. We sung our first carol – in Finnish, for which I give full props to Husband! – at the end of October. I pulled out the ornaments before Thanksgiving, and Husband brought home the first Christmas foods just afterwards.
I really like my Finnish Christmas food. When Husband and I got married, we had to fit our respective customs together into a combination that included both of our favorites. Fortunately that turned out very easy, because his New England family traditions and my Finnish ones are quite similar. Instead of turkey and cranberry, we make ham and prunes with various sides. They tend to vary from year to year, but always include some form of potato. 🙂
And the desserts! We decided to include a small amount of a wide variety, so there’s space for both traditions. When I can’t get Finnish gingerbread cookies, I’ll choose the Swedish brand Annas pepparkakor. We’re also stuffing ourself with clementines.
I’ve really grown to like eggnog a lot. Due to my lactose intolerance, we tend to look for non-dairy alternatives, though. This new-to-us nog turned out pretty yummy.
I like the fact that this one is only lightly sweetened – the only place I prefer lots of sugar is in my alcohol – but I felt it lacked some creaminess. Quite nice, however, especially with a splash of vanilla soy milk.
I’m also looking forward to making and eating joulutortut and rice porridge (rice pudding).
What are your favorite end-of-year holiday foods?
Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.
The Halloween weekend in our corner of woods has offered all kinds of fall weather, from bright and breathtakingly glorious…
…to grey and bland, to rainy and windy, and everything in between. One day we quite unintentionally had appropriate Halloween effects delivered by nature (with an assist by us):
We’ve stripped our garden canopy for the winter season already. If the sun’s just right, we get the shadow of a huge “spider” cast on our window.
We also witnessed an attempted murder…
…but the two crows in question never found enough flockmates to complete it. #BadPuns