Friday, July 9, 2010

Juhannus

[ Finnish midsummer celebration ]


Bags packed, towels, check, the girls buckled up, check – we were ready to leave to the harbor, where the evening before, Jarno and I set up the sail boat for the next morning. It required many different knots and pullies, and much of it was new to me, but it was a very good experience.

The wind was slow, but once we were out of the harbor, the archipelago around me came to life and mesmerized me like it had three years ago. When one thinks archipelago, they think tropical islands and palm trees. This is still the Nordic sea, yet these rocky islands towering with dense green forests are interspersed all around you. It is truly an incredible sight.

Last time I came to Finland, it was already late in June, after the Juhannus festivities had past. Ever since leaving, I knew that I wanted to return to experience this holiday and make my experiences of a Finnish summer feel even more complete. Things were already going perfectly. The girls munched on strawberries and green pea pods [ so iconic of the summer markets here ] and I sat on deck with Jarno and Anna as we steered toward the island.

Once at the Island, we met up with Fanny and the rest of the Impilä family and the relaxing vacation began. Time was never really an issue, everything just blended together, especially with the sun lazily hanging over our heads the entire day. Swimming, card games on the boat, soccer games on the field, trips to the sauna, running out into the cold sea, back into the sauna, even colder sea – the pattern continued. We would bbq at night – always with Finnish sausages as part of the mix, and after the wonderful feeling of a good sauna experience, the nights kind of just dozed away along with the sun.

I did wake up one morning still unsatisfied with how rested I was but continued to the outdoor latrines anyways. Outside the sun was even more intense and made me need to adjust to the brightness for a few moments. All the while, it wasn’t until I returned that it was only 4:27 am! Where was my evening mask when I needed it now!

The days passed by as we chatted and gossiped about the big news in the paper – the wedding of the Swedish princes which stole the headlines of nearly every Finnish and Swedish paper in the country. And once again to my enjoyment, we also played the Finnish game of chucking blocks of wood, Möllky.

The 4 day trip was over as fast as it started. Every moment was incredible, and I was so thankful to both the Salminens and the Impilä’s for inviting me for the festivities. Saying bye to the girls, I received little “Heipa’s” in return, small bye byes, since I don’t think they grasped that it might be a year or two once again since I get to see them.

[ Probably around midnight ]

In the period with my host family, the three years that had past seemed nonexistent and it was wonderful to know that my high school YFU experience there has blossomed into what I hope will stay a lifelong friendship. I had one more leg of my trip in Finland, and that was to Helsinki where I would meet up once again with my friend Anna Kiukkonen and her family and rediscover one of my favorite places in Europe, the Finnish capital city.


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