Finland Diary

ducks

Wednesday afternoon, July, rural Finland. Rain falls at its own pace through sixteen celsius degrees. It’s soft and gentle, but it still makes everything wet.

The things you need today are sweatshirts, sweatpants and a book. And mosquito coils chain smoking on the porch. Mosquito coils are Hyttyssavu in Finnish.

Here in Savonia they’re digging up the very first new potatoes right now. By next week they’ll be in all the stews. Even in July Karelian stew is rainy day perfect.

When it rains the lake is all ripples and worry. When it stops it’s a pane of glass.

Summer is constrained in the north. You live the whole season in several weeks because you have to. Even so, today the pleasure boats stay out of the rain.

They’ve made notched-log benches for the fire pit. They chopped the notches in with a hatchet. First a log the length of your arm with a notch in the center. Then another log in the notch, with its own notch in its center.

There’s one of these on each end. How did they split the longer log, the bench that runs between them? They must have done that at a mill. It’s machine-flat.

Woodsheds and saunas and split-log benches. You can’t walk ten minutes around the shore without them, and this time of summer Helsinki shuts down and the whole country goes to the shore. Traditions and old ways.

The rain falls straight-down, vermicelli thin. The clouds weigh too much.

Push off here, sail out around the point, under the road bridge and off to the west, and you’re headed for the Baltic. Sea birds come up here. They fight over by the channel buoys and they’re all rattle and fury, and then they fight at the tip of the little island, then out in the middle of the water. Matters grow so dire that they dive bomb each other.

It’s not good when they attack our ducks, though. We may only be here for a week in a year, but they are our ducks, because surely mama was one of the chicks last time we were here.

This year mama has seven chicks. We feed them crackers off the dock and worry maybe they’re too tame, but they love crackers and they all crowd around.

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More photos from this trip to Finland, Germany and Poland.

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