From the sea to the mountains to the lake. I’ve made it to our family cottage by a small lake in Central Finland, and will be spending the next few weeks here. This is our family’s sanctuary, the place where we gather every summer, very close to the farm where my father was born and where my ancestors cultivated this land for hundreds of years. The roots go deep here. It’s Finnish language immersion for my one-year-old daughter (who is having the time of her life, by the way). For me, it’s immersion in all the sensations and experiences that evoke memories of childhood summers spent in the Finnish countryside: the smell of birch leaves and freshly chopped wood and smoke coming from the sauna chimney; the flavors of new potatoes — just dug out of the ground — with butter and dill, and tiny wild strawberries warmed by the sun; the slow swaying of the tall trunks of pine trees, the nighttime birdsong (for it never really gets dark here this time of the year), the feeling of wet sand beneath my toes at the lake’s edge. It is here that I get to embrace a more natural way of living — as in, literally close to nature — that’s not possible in my urban rental home in the US. Vast expanses of wild, uninhabited forest spread out from our doorstep. I spend most of the day walking barefoot on duff and rocks and grass. We practice nutrient cycling through composting and humanure. We drink water from the spring that’s on the property. Often, we eat fish caught from the lake the same day, potatoes and salad harvested from the garden, and berries and mushrooms picked in the woods. (Full disclosure: my Dad’s new specialty, “salmon on the plank” below is not such fish. But it sure looked gorgeous in the evening sun and melted in the mouth.)
I have some projects in the works here that I’m really stoked to share with you soon. Stay tuned!