Sunday, 5 August 2018

Laituri rocks - on the pier and more

For a one week, our days has been starting at the pier and ending at the pier. The heat wave has been hanging in Finland for many weeks and the best way to cool down is to swim in the lake and let the summer breeze and the rays of sun to dry the skin. We are back to our favorite pear in Kainuu. Early morning breakfast by the water and late evening dip after Sauna are our daily highlights. The Simple things are the best.

Sunset at Nuasjärvi

The bigger the children get, the more challenging and more important it is to show the beauty of lazy, creative summer days surrounded with basic natural elements. We did not choose the 0% tolerance with electronical devices, but we chose a location without too much modern luxury. The water seems to be the most interesting place for play, at any age. The presence of Nature is making us more calm and more attentive for  the details. The dragon flies, the rabbits, the bees, the fishes, the butterflies and even the annoying mosquitos are here with us, no matter what. We also have had our fun at the local activities like adventerous climbing park Seikkailupuisto and down hill car racing, still some sup boarding in our plans. 


Sunset and GT at the pier.

Therapy for the tired feet.


I want to see something traditional and learn from the past of Kainuu during our yearly summer visits. I can recognize my earlier pre puberty self when the kids are demonstrating against visiting another road church or museum. But even in the presence of that noisy or quiet protest, I am happy to give a flash of history for them. I know they will remember that and maybe get more interested in their Finnish roots later on. I remember many the places I visited as a kid, even just the atmosphere or the smell of the old wood can be a lifetime memory with importance. 

We drove today to Paltaniemi, which is a little village belonging to  the town of Kajaani by the Oulujärvi lake. It is a nice location with a few interesting spots to visit. We went to see the beautiful, old wooden church called Paltaniemen kuvakirkko (Paltaniemi church of paintings). The church was build in 1726 and the characteristic  ceiling & wall paintings were made by Emanuel Granberg during the years 1778-1781. I really like the interior and the nice light toned peaceful feeling in this church.

Paltaniemi is a green village with charming old houses, rural landscapes and a cute museum road near the lake. The local boat harbor and the swimming beach is very nice with small children. It seems like you can walk a huge distance from the beach before you really can start to swim. Lake Oulujärvi is the fifth biggest lake in Finland and called as "the Sea of Kainuu" by local people. 

One of the nicest thing in visiting Finland is that the water is never far away. The only thing I miss sometimes is a nice cafe or a good restaurant near the summer nature. In Paltaniemi you can visit the home of poet Eino Leino (1878-1926)and have a coffee in this historical house. In the summer time there is also a summer theatre and you can listen some poetry in the glow of summer evenings. Also some local artists have their exhibitions in the barn of this lovely garden of Eino Leino talo

an Art exhibition of a local painter Heli Jauhiainen

And as the sun goes down 
it's time to do the last dance on the pier

As I'm walking the path in the woods
in one of these Summer nights
walking in my thoughts
and my chest is pumped with joy
and I am singing...just singing 

(my free translation from Eino Leino poem:))

Thursday, 5 July 2018

From the west coast to the east end

One week ago I was cycling in the open landscapes of Terschelling. I found what I was looking for and was convinced that being out of the mainland, being landed in a small island, was the place I needed to be during those days. After crossing the mysterious waters separating the Wadden Islands from the long coastline of the Netherlands, I felt free and open while cycling around with my friends. Clouds were hanging low above our heads and the challenge of the hard wind was bitter sweet. I think nothing else than the roam of the sea and the open horizons on our way, could empty our heads better from the echoes from our everyday life. Following the sand without any marked roads on our beach walks, it was like slowly getting closer to the hidden edge of the civilization. 

At the same time I was aware that the local people must have their own story to tell about the life in the island. These people must have their unique way to sense the spirit of this landscape. The strong winds, the noise of the sea and being so close to the nature must have had a big influence on the character of these people. 
During the history the western and the eastern part of the island were separated. There has been some characteristic differences between the people of the opposite ends of this island. In the west, the people were more connected to the sea and the folks in the East were more connected to the earth and farming. Nowadays is more like a one island and the main income comes from the Tourism during the high season. Visiting places like this and sensing the isolation, like a timeless comforting mist around the island, make me feel a bit protective. I felt like not wanting to disturb the balance of the nature and the life of the Island people. Well, I was not in a jungle with some tribe :), but I felt a big respect to this beautiful place and the people making their living in here and being part of the story. I felt so happy being able to be there this summer again. 

Great, old architecture in West Terschelling.

The landscape of Terschelling is still very much natural: 80% of the land is dominated by natural dunes and salt-meadows. With 71,298 hectares, Terschelling is the largest municipality in the Netherlands. This is because a great part of the Wadden Sea, including the bird island Griend, belong to municipality lands. The island itself has just 11,575 hectares, is about 30 kilometers long and maximum 4,5 km wide. There are 70 kilometers long network of cycling routes, this is the best way to see the landscapes here. But you can also travel by bus to the many villages and locations from the West-Terschelling to the most eastern village of Oosterend. 

Terschelling from the air, west end in front.

This was my second visit on this island and I was taking part to Oerol festival with my husband and with my friends. I felt fascinated about the spirit and the creativity of the theatre and the music performances I saw. The most impressive element in this festival is how they manage to include the nature so closely to the performances. After cycling to the theatre location, you are often guided to the middle of the dunes or woods through the small paths in the Nature. In these silent locations, the message of the performance feels very intimate. You never know if the sun is going to shine or if there are rain showers during the show. But it doesn't matter, people seem to be more ready the accept the situation and the it comes. The forces of the nature are like surprising elements in this festival. I also like how the theatre is bringing up the environmental and human issues of our time. The whole concept of shows is very modern and the actors and the musicians are spontaneous in always changing situations, connected with the nature. 

Some great performances we saw: 

Billy the Kid
Orkater: De wereldvergadering 
Saman Amini: samenloop van omstandigheden

One day we cycled to the East end of the island. Actually you can't really cycle through the most eastern part of the dunes, the better way is to park the bike and walk the rest along the huge coast line. So we cycled first through the cycling path in the de Boschplaat, which is one of the European Nature reserves. After parking our bikes, we headed to the beach.

It looked so fresh and clean at the beach, but of course the sea had floated some plastic on the sand. We collected some garbage on our way and I was thinking all the garbage floating on the sea all over the world. We can read so much over this issue at the moment and there are some well known projects like The Ocean Cleanup trying the make the difference by collecting the big garbage patches from the Oceans. The ocean currents are bringing the plastic garbage to 5 different locations in the Oceans of our planet. I think it is important to read about these issues and try to use less and less plastic in our daily lives. This is quite a challenge for example when doing the shopping in a supermarket, but we have to learn to be more aware when making the choices and show a good example to the next generations. 

Summer greetings from sunny Amsterdam, with many island memories!

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Time to listen and live

The empty landscape can look like a master painting or a scene from a movie. The dynamics will change if something or someone comes and breaks the silence with a movement and sound. Movement is a crucial part of our lives, without going further on our journey, we are stucked and do not see the possibilities behind our mental borderlines. 

This is important to remember with our individual plans and also with our partners, friends or with a family. If we do not take our time to talk and do things together or take time to be alone every now and then, we will slowly loose the connection to ourselves and to our closest ones.

We even might start to think nobody is interested in what we think or what we want. But as eager as we wait someone will ask how are you doing, we have to be willing to ask the same question first. How am I doing and how are you doing?

There is nothing wrong with a small talk and I do not want to share my deepest thoughts with everyone. The answer to the same question might differ in different contexts and with different people. As long as we listen what the other person wants to say at that particular moment, there will be a positive effect, a shared moment and giving the attention. I can easily agree on all that I write, but sometimes I seem to act differently. This is a human condition, so much thinking or hesitation until something really happens or we take the action.

I think it is good to turn the attention to the outside world and stay not too long in the circles of our thoughts. Breaking the routines and surprising ourselves, making the space for meeting the friends and being attentive to our partners in life.

I had a very nice lunch at the beach with my husband last week. We changed our routine, we made an appointment for a friday. We had a great walk at the beach and at the dunes. The asparagus season is inspiring the spring kitchen in many restaurants. This version was quite heavy with eggs, butter sauce, ham and potatoes. We could not eat everything and I prefer a lighter version next time. But my company and the glass of wine was perfect. 

There are days when the "me time" is needed. A balance of taking your own time and  having the "we time" on another occasion is sometimes a challenge to plan. Both are so much needed. The time has to be our friend, the time to connect. We can't let the time to build the distance and any invisible walls. Instead of assuming what is going on out there or in someones mind, we have to use the presence and our daily life for keeping up reconnecting, listening and talking with awareness. 

In the end I want to share something personal. I have lived now for 3 years in the Netherlands and I always thought my language will develop enough during the years like it did when I lived in Germany(my husband is dutch, but we speak english at home and I speak Finnish with our children). But lately I noticed I am stucked on the same level and there is no development. It is possible to survive in Amsterdam with English, because it is a very international place to live. Also the natives are not very patient of listening if someone tries to speak  their language. Everything seems to go just more smoothly using the english. I have always tried to speak dutch and most of the times I can make a conversation and take part to situations in dutch in everyday life. But I am making grammatical mistakes in fast communication situations and I want to learn to speak more convincing and without typical errors, hoping one day no one will ask if I want to speak english instead of dutch. The thing is, people can understand what I say, but the conversation easily doesn't grow anything interesting. For me is a bit confusing to be in the borders of these two languages, because I understand dutch quite well. So to boost my language and get more correct and fluent, I will take part to intensive dutch course next month. I am now very motivated and also happy I did this little action. 

Spring greetings from Holland!