Here’s my comment to Stella’s informative & interesting post:
Valerie Curren says:
July 15, 2018 at 5:30 pm
Thanks for sharing all this interesting info about Finland. For years I thought I was Finnish (1/2) before being informed that my mom was adopted. My grandparents were both children of Finnish immigrants & both grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, him in Newberry & her in Ishpeming &/or Negaunee. My grandpa’s mother & step-mother (after his mom died) were both mail order brides from back in the old country. My grandparents spoke an antiquated form of Finnish that set the hearer to chuckling whenever they visited Finland.
These Finnish grandparents had a couple of cottages, one in the UP that was the summer vacation destination of my mother’s childhood, & one an hour North of Detroit, that became their retirement home. Both cottages were equipped with a traditional Finnish sauna (pronounced SOW-nuh!), which we regularly partook of on Sunday visits. This lakefront cottage supplied water drawn in buckets from the lake for use in the sauna. Grandpa would chop two holes in the ice in the winter, one just off the shoreline near the sauna to draw the water for the steam-bath’s usage & the other about 15 feet from shore, in the swimming area, for the adventurous steam-bather to plunge through after a winter sauna, which I did on numerous occasions (including a college break with a couple of international friends from Jamaica & Aruba whom I convinced to jump through the hole in the ice with me, which got my grandpa to say that I had “Sisu”!). I can still see my dad & grandpa sitting on the sauna’s porch on a winter’s day with steam pouring off their bodies in clouds.
These Finnish grandparents were very proud of their Finnish heritage, though also very thankful to be Americans. They entertained guests, including the occasional Finn with whom they would converse in the old language. Grandpa liked to tell tales of the Finnish people’s guerrilla resistance to Russian oppression surrounding the WWII era, skiing & shooting, etc. They were both incredibly industrious people, both had grown up on farms. They had a large garden so always had fresh produce, grandma often canning some of this bounty. They kept a compost pile well before it was “fashionable” & always had a scrap bucket under the sink for that purpose. My grandpa worked for many years maintaining the mile long gravel road they lived on, working 10-12 hour days in his retirement with a wheelbarrow, shovel, & pickax (he apparently used to sling railroad ties when a youth to raise the funds to put himself through college). They used to make “cherry herring” or “kiyafa” (sp?), a Finnish wine at home.
Our lives were much enriched by this warm & generous couple, who took in a baby from an unwed mother, my grandma faking a pregnancy, to spare this daughter the cruel treatment their son, adopted from grandpa’s alcoholic sister, had experienced amidst a cruel & insular community who knew he was a “bastard” & called him such to his face…
Reading what you shared about Finland it’s easy to see why so many Finns settled in America’s Northern climes. Perhaps the hearty winters of the UP were no big deal to people who were used to Finland’s own land of the midnight sun!.
According to The Official Travel Guide of Finland:
The white summer nights are perhaps Finland’s most iconic phenomena. The nighttime sun is at its strongest during the months of June and July but the further north you go, the longer and higher the sun stays above the horizon. In the very northernmost parts you can experience a full Midnight Sun from May to August.
In the northernmost parts of Finnish Lapland, the sun stays above the horizon for over 70 consecutive days.
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