The Finland I knew

This one of those pictures that explains Finland without saying a little word!
This one of those pictures that explains Finland without saying a little word! | Source

Traveling with my Mom

Other than cooking... My Mom has this God given talent to pack an entire house in a suitcase! I'm not kidding! OK, at least it felt that way! I never did manage to repack everything in the same amount of suitcases on the way home. EVER!

The funniest thing about our two vaccations in Finland (I believe it was in 1978/79 and in 1980/81.) was the memory of the customs chaos!

This has been a long time ago and I may mix the two vacations up a little; considering I was maybe seven or so. But I have to tell you the stories of Agathe and the boat that didn't move. And the poor customs officers that just didn't know how big the can of worms was that they were opening!

With Tschernobyl it is sad that my children will never be able to experience this fun! I doubt I can recreate it anywhere else, since the mushrooms, blueberries, cranberries, Finland's potato soup and the people themselves just can't be replaced!

Source
A lot of good information and beautiful pictures!
A lot of good information and beautiful pictures! | Source

The 'Customs Chaos'

May God protect any custom officer who may ever encounter my Mom and nurture the idea to check her baggage! He or she may be in for a surprise!

I remember a 'Klift-Gruen' Golf L (a really old-style VW Golf (1972?) in a yellowish green color), packed so high we kids didn't exactly touch the seats with our rears. My sister was (and still is) a tiny brat and I wasn't much older. So we suffered through the trip with the usual mind games, singing and sleeping. Eventually we arrived at the Finish border and stood in line...

I remember seeing a lot of tables and people unpacking their stuff. When we were waved over, my Mom (She can communicate in any language with a small, pocket-size dictionary, handsignals and the determination only a 'Berliner' German has!) proceeded to 'translate' and start the process... I know that she asked him several times if he was sure he wanted her to unpack everything. (You have to give it to her: She gave him fair warning!) ....He was!
I am sure my Mom gave him one of those looks she usually reserved for one of us when we were determined to do something really stupid. She turned around, opened the door....

FIRE IN THE HOLE!

You can't picture the magnitude unless you know that the customs stations was originally mend for 6 cars with two tables each. I am sure that the other tourists in line had certain unfriendly feelings towards the customs officer, my Mom or both.
She proceeded to reach into the car and lay out the treasure found; one by one on the first-, second-, third-, fourth-.... table! Every time she was reaching in, people would hold their breath... and when she came out with yet another item, people would groan. To this day I have tears in my eyes when I imagine their faces...

Needless to say: This took hours!

By the time she was done, everyone of these tables meant for six cars was covered in stuff!

I'm not even sure if they did look at it!

As systematic as she had been unpacking it, she re-packed it! Knowing her she probably had more room after she was done re-packing; and all of it fit back in!

I wish I knew how to pack like that!

Its beauty is overwhelming sometimes!
Its beauty is overwhelming sometimes! | Source
Blueberry Field! WOW!
Blueberry Field! WOW! | Source

The Blueberry Outhouse

Finland is beautiful! At least it was when I was little. It reminds me of a mix between beautiful green Ireland and the wild forests of Russia. The lakes are never-ending and at that time the mushrooms, fish and berries were so plentiful that you could have lived on them alone!

I wish I had a camera back then. I am sure I would have taken millions of pictures. Especially when we had to take a boat over to the island where our Loghome would be. This is outdoor heaven! If you like it wild and beautiful, this can only be challenged by maybe Alaska.

So we unloaded the poor Golf and loaded the boat. I am sure it took a lot more than once to get it all over to the island!!! The house itself was beautiful. I remember walking into a large living room with a eating area to the right and the giant fireplace ahead. Firewood was plentiful and the main source of heat. ...And the main source of open-fire fried apples on a stick! YUMMY!

When walking up to the house, the house was to the left and nestled on the bottom of a hill covered in OH MY GOD the World's largest (at least in the eyes of a 7 year old) field of Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Cranberries.... SOOOOOOO GOOOOOOD!

Looking forward you would see the small, wooden outhouse in the middle of a Blueberry field!

The first time one of us went to the bathroom (I don't remember who!), we all wondered why it took over 30 minutes for the individual to return!? grin

No matter how bad you have to go, it is impossible to walk on that path between the Blueberries and not stuff them in your mouth with both hands! And on the way back it will take you even longer! It's a dream any 7 year old should be allowed to live!

Sadly Tschernobyl ruined that! At least to my knowledge you no longer can enjoy the vast supply of wild growing berries and mushrooms; or the angler's delight of unbelievable variety of fish that seem to love to bite. Even with a fishing pole made out of a stick, string, hook and a cheap pear shaped swimmer!

I remember taking a boat like this to our first Loghome vacation.
I remember taking a boat like this to our first Loghome vacation. | Source

The Boat doesn't move!

My Dad's Humor is almost as dangerous as my Mom's packing skills to customs officers!

I'm not sure if it has to do with the management classes he took or if he is just that type of guy who can captain container ships, sail 40ft boats across oceans and... play some really rough jokes. We learned early on to never go anywhere without a open mind and the expectation of his entertainment. Who would think that the super-professional and highly effective former vice (deputy?, alternate? No clue what to call that in English) manager of Lufthansa Cargo in Hamburg can be as creative with jokes than any other comedian enjoyable on Comic Channel!?

This one was a rather harmless joke he played on a family member that had taken the trip to Finland with us.

As I mentioned we had to take a trip with the boat to get to the house. Most of the time we would use the motor, but it was just too much fun to paddle. And this despite the long trips it took to go shopping. The next stores were several miles away. ...Doesn't mean much unless you know that seemingly most of Finland's road systems is made of gravel roads! At least it seems that way!

I'm not sure why we were floating around in the boat close to the house, but I had been surprised to see that my father disabled the motor.... Until I saw that evil grin and a wink!
Somehow he managed to get our companion to look around at some things a good distance away... and snug a large square rock on a rope into the water! The rock was tied to the front of the boat!

"Lets get back!" So my Dad tried unsuccessfully to start the boat... grin

OK. So we had to paddle back!

Or companion volunteered to paddle and started to do so with gusto. He was fit and we made good speed......

He just didn't notice that, due to a well placed square rock on a long rope tied to the front of the boat (grin) kept us in place; ...and paddling in circles!

All the while we are trying to keep straight faces!

Got to love my father's humor!

Crows are highly inteligent!
Crows are highly inteligent! | Source

Agathe

I don't remember how it started, but we had regular visits by a feathered creature we affectionately called Agathe. Agathe was a crow that once scared the wits out of our neighbor when she accidentally ended up in his house and got a little frustrated about not being able to get out. I doubt she, with her cleverness and courage, was truly afraid; but rather losing her temper about being locked up!

Agathe was a bit forceful when she thought it was time for a meal. She would land on the metal roof and walk around on it; compatible with a urgent knock on one's front door. If that didn't get her the attempted reaction, she would just use her beak! And she was surely an 'early bird'!

Agathe had a certain menu she was fond of. One of her favorite things was 'Fleischwurst'. Fleischwurst is, at least to me, a Gourmet version of Bologna. Much, much better! It comes in a sausage type link and is sliced for multiple purposes. One is to feed a hungry crow!

My father would stand in the middle of the open area in front of our house, arms spread to mimic a scarecrow, but rather to provide a landing strip for a hungry bird. Agathe would approach low and land with the precision of years of experience on whichever arm she desired. She would then proceed to devour the slice of 'Fleischwurst' in absolutely no hurry whatsoever. She then would fly off; only to return whenever it pleased her to 'order' another meal!

One of Agathe's many cousins.
One of Agathe's many cousins. | Source

Agathe attacks!

One of those glorious, warm days we decided on making some sour cream with fresh fruit. So we climbed up the hill behind our house and started filling bowls with blueberries and other fresh fruit growing behind the house.

We were working our ways up the hill. Our companion (and a close family member) had placed his bowl strategically on a large rock within the blueberry field. He had filled it about halfway and was reaching behind him to add another handful of berries. He heard a noise and turned around...

Apparently, having been unable to get our attention otherwise, Agathe felt slighted of her meal and had tracked us down. It must have appealed to her to find a large bowl full of fresh fruit sitting so easily accessible on a rock. So she stopped by to have a snack!

When our companion turned around to investigate the noise, he also startled Agathe! Agathe, not being a shy bird, showed her displeasure in a explosive display of shreaks and flapping wings... Only inches away from our companion's face!

I will never forget the picture of our tall, lanky and long-legged companion virtually flying down the hill over rasberry bushes, rocks and other obstacles; arms flying, legs flying... In a speed that is just unbelievable considering that the hill was little more than a pile of rocks with lots of thorny bushes and blueberries!

Both survived the encounter; but it is understandable that they weren't exactly fond of each other anymore!

Beautiful green everything and horses. PERFECT!
Beautiful green everything and horses. PERFECT! | Source

Walks across fields and the Cow pile!

The second time we went, we rented a different log home. It was settled between tons of trees and with a never-tiring view of a beautiful lake.

To get there we had to drive over a small but steep hill. Sadly our old Golf was loaded a bit to full and we couldn't make it. So we drove around to the farm who the log home belonged to.
In order for us to get the car across the hill and our stuff to the house we had to walk across a field full of cows. SO FUNNY!
Packed with everything we could carry, we would walk across the field. It didn't take us long to figure out why the farmer had warned us to 'watch out' (my Mom translated it via dictionary). I don't know who did first, but several of us ended up stepping into probably the largest cow 'pie's I have ever seen. All that fresh grass must have done wonders to the cows!

So between picking white mushrooms fresh from the field (the kind we all know from our grocery store) and dancing around cow 'pies', we moved all the things my Mom had stuffed into our poor car. We walked across the field, into the woods and pass the trees the farmer had cut down for us for firewood. It's sad that I don't remember how the house looked like, but I remember a giant rock on the beach and the tiny 'island' right across from the house.

Being as friendly as I remember ever Finnish folk I ever met, we did make our peace with the cows and enjoyed gallons of fresh milk. If you ever had fresh milk almost straight from the cow, you can't stand that store-bought watery stuff!

The Finland I learned to love has this seemingly untouched flair to it in a lot of places. Just a few feet from the house wilderness took over and a patient person could lay there and watch all kinds of wildlife. Again and again I regret not to have been able to take a camera, but as a young child you don't understand how beautiful moments like that can be gone forever. I know tourism is a growing thing in this beautiful country and I doubt that it is still possible to find a log home that far away from 'civilization'; or the peace that came with it!

My Dad always had his book with him to figure out what could be eaten or not.
My Dad always had his book with him to figure out what could be eaten or not. | Source

Sugar Sandwiches and Potato Soup

Children are easy to please! If it is sweet, we eat it!

One of my favorite memories of the food we had in Finland, tough, is of potatoes in milk. I have no idea what exactly they put in it or what it is called, but our Finnish Farmer's Wife made us those delicious bowls of warm milk with potato pieces and other goodies swimming in it. I always wanted to know what it was, but the hospitality is something I will always miss.
They were down-to-Earth people with simple lives; just making an extra penny on renting out a little log home in their 'backyard'. But, as much as those tourists must have often gotten on their nerves, they never failed to be more than just simply polite; friendly and welcoming!

When we weren't eating this yummy soup, we children could have easily survived on "Knaeckebrot" (it's a German bread, maybe 'Crunchy' bread?!) with fresh butter and sugar on it. It was our favorite treat and I fondly remember the varieties that could be bought. I do occasionally get it from the Commissary when I get the chance.
Another 'favorite' was my Mom's 'Quark' (Sour Creme) with any fresh fruit she could find. With the freshness and natural sweetness of the blueberries and such, we didn't even have to add sugar to it. Pick the berries in your backyard, wash them and throw them in the sour creme! Done!

The fresh fruit, mushrooms and fish were a great change from all that store-bought stuff and left me a bit picky; and longing for almost forgotten treasures.

Great pictures! Ziegenbart is delicious, but you have to do a lot of searching to find enough for a meal!
Great pictures! Ziegenbart is delicious, but you have to do a lot of searching to find enough for a meal! | Source
These were growing gigantic in Finland! And so tasty!
These were growing gigantic in Finland! And so tasty! | Source
Can you imagine these being over a foot tall and at least that wide?
Can you imagine these being over a foot tall and at least that wide? | Source
More awesome and very detailed pictures!
More awesome and very detailed pictures! | Source

Shopping Trip and Finland's High-Rises

When you walked down the path to the lake, the beach stretched out in front of you. To the right was a giant bolder, as flat as a pancake. My Dad would clean fish there; I would sit on it to fish.
Across from the house was a double island. The two small islands were connected by reed grass or whatever it may have been. To the right was 'my' island!

I couldn't really swim yet. And the boat was a bit big for me. But I was determined to make it to my island. So one day I ended up with a floating tree. I paddled all the way to the small island.

I had looked at it for days, but hadn't been unable to check it out. When I got there it was rather small. But it wasn't important. If you are that age, a voyage like that is not measured in the perfection of the destination, but the accomplishment of the voyage!

I spend many days and evenings sitting on that giant bolder. I had my stick with its string, hock and cheap swimmer on it. And my Dad had taught me how to put a worm on a hook. I never caught anything big, but size wasn't important. I accomplished the catch of several fish that would feed my family. I loved it!

I guess when you are a child, you appreciate the simple things in life! I have much more memories of fun days playing in a self-made giant sandcastle, the giant worlds of Matchbox cars and plastic animals we created, fish I caught, voyages I took, walking a pack of dogs... than I have of some of the accomplishments I was ordered to collect for my Military Performance Reports. Fun was honest and fun; and every tiny accomplishment counted for something!

I try to teach my children to value the little things; value what they have rather than what they don't. But children always know better; until one day they look back.
A lot of lessons learned back then still influence the things I do. I value honesty and integrity; and hate lies more than anything. I value family time over things that are just a spure of a moment. I take pictures of the sun go; lightening up a soon-to-be thunderstorm sky. When a friend feels down, I take her outside and show her the beauty of a Texas sunrise! I sit on my porch and enjoy looking at my pond. It beats shopping trips and TV!

Not the lake I remember, but an equally beautiful one.
Not the lake I remember, but an equally beautiful one. | Source

The Island in the lake and the beach picnic

When you walked down the path to the lake, the beach stretched out in front of you. To the right was a giant bolder, as flat as a pancake. My Dad would clean fish there; I would sit on it to fish.
Across from the house was a double island. The two small islands were connected by reed grass or whatever it may have been. To the right was 'my' island!

I couldn't really swim yet. And the boat was a bit big for me. But I was determined to make it to my island. So one day I ended up with a floating tree. I paddled all the way to the small island.

I had looked at it for days, but hadn't been unable to check it out. When I got there it was rather small. But it wasn't important. If you are that age, a voyage like that is not measured in the perfection of the destination, but the accomplishment of the voyage!

I spend many days and evenings sitting on that giant bolder. I had my stick with its string, hock and cheap swimmer on it. And my Dad had taught me how to put a worm on a hook. I never caught anything big, but size wasn't important. I accomplished the catch of several fish that would feed my family. I loved it!

I guess when you are a child, you appreciate the simple things in life! I have much more memories of fun days playing in a self-made giant sandcastle, the giant worlds of Matchbox cars and plastic animals we created, fish I caught, voyages I took, walking a pack of dogs... than I have of some of the accomplishments I was ordered to collect for my Military Performance Reports. Fun was honest and fun; and every tiny accomplishment counted for something!

Perfection caught in a great picture!
Perfection caught in a great picture! | Source

Memories

It was a long time ago, but it was something we did together as a family. This family is very distant now and didn't always withstand time. But back then we had a lot of happy moments and a ton of fun. Memories like that are like a pot of gold.

A lot of my friends didn't exactly have a happy home. Some of them would have probably been better of without their parents. Knowing them gives me appreciation for a great childhood, despite some things I could have done without. Children can be cruel when you are a 'stranger' and don't fit in for one reason or another.
But I got to do things they didn't! I got to spend time with a great family in a great place; twice! And bring home a wealth of memories others never got to experience.

I hope one day my children will look back and have something they remember as fondly as I remember those few weeks in the 'bushes'. It would mean that I did something right!

Family is a great institution and something that needs to be cherished. Cherished and cared for! I know a few people that know me that never understood why family means that much to me. And why I chose family over a lot of things! But then... they didn't get to experience what it means to be together as a family! They don't have the memories I have! Memories I would love to add on to!

Agathe at work.
Agathe at work. | Source
Waiting on the Ferry to Finland. My Dad is wearing an Islaender, which is the warmest piece of clothing ever created (my opinion!).
Waiting on the Ferry to Finland. My Dad is wearing an Islaender, which is the warmest piece of clothing ever created (my opinion!). | Source
I was a beautiful house.
I was a beautiful house. | Source

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Comments 4 comments

roanna profile image

roanna 5 years ago from Virginia

Amazingly beautiful places and the story is also great!


raakachi profile image

raakachi 5 years ago from Madurai / Tamilnadu / India

A lovely story i have ever been heard like this way of portraying everything in front of my eyes. Excellent1 i love your way of telling this story. This makes me also feel my childhood days before me, for that i must thank you very much! Thanks for your sharing this hub that every body should feel it! Voted up as beautiful.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

This brought back memories from my visit to Finland. So nice you enjoyed and remembered your visits from childhood. It is hard to believe my visit was twenty years ago next year; I loved it as well;it was memorable both in sights,family and friends. It was all beautiful!


stephaniedas profile image

stephaniedas 4 years ago from Miami, US

So lovely. It reminds me of childhood vacations to Maine and New Brunswick!

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