Thursday, August 20, 2009

Signs that tell the summer is over, Autumn is here....and....

1. The children are back at school and in my case, the lads are back at college and my youngest, Jake, is on his new course, of Forestry, having left school in May.

Sodankylä was the last of the local area councils to return to education... As you can imagine they were quite happy about that this year! So, they went back on Monday 17th August... a whole week later than others and half a week later than in Rovaniemi.

2. Rug and mat washing... the great Finnish tradition! Found in virtually every Finnish town, is the public mat washing amenity. Ours is by the side of the Kitinen river. It has long rinsing basins, drying racks and a big old fashioned mangle - yes they still exist!! Finns love to wash their mats you know! It is such an event that it even makes the front page of the Lapland region newspaper! I find that rather humorous actually!
Click here to read the online, albeit shortened version (Finnish) Everyone is at it!

These pictures, taken on Friday it was a glorious evening!

The mangle.....

Note how the rugs are all left to dry by their owners... safe in the knowledge that they will still be there, upon their return several hours later!

There is even somewhere to keep the kids happy whilst doing the task!

3. The trees are starting to change colour. Birches are turning yellow rapidly and Rowans are turning a gorgeous red. Autumn happens quickly here. As the temperatures drop overnight, the leaves change their bright green colours to their glorious traffic light cousin colours... This picture of a Birch only tells a small part of the was quite light when I took this picture, so it was hard to show up!

4. Darker and darker nights.... (and mornings!) The lights on for longer.... So, the midnight sun has certainly left us for another year... Here is an image taken outside of my home, at 11pm during the month of June... that I forgot to share online then. Apart from the long shadows, you would never know that it was taken so late would you? Ahh.... how nice and unusual those months of light are....

5. Orange sticks. (?) Yes, that's right, I said orange sticks....LOL. During the last week, the council workers have been out and about with armfuls of them. It is the annual stick month! (What on earth??? You may ask...) Ok, is a simple but clever system of road marking, done now, in readiness for the long winter dark months.

These plastic sticks are about 4-5ft high and pushed into the ground at the road side at regular intervals. To the top of the pole is a reflective strip. They are there to show winter drivers just where the edge of the road is! They have to be that long, or the snow would totally over take them! (It tries really hard to to the image below lent to me from my friend Amel shows! Can you see the stick in the heap of snow to the left of the road?) With many roads totally unlit, you certainly need them - to guide your way along the road, show turnings etc! Amels husband Arttu (R2), tells me they are called Aurausviitat in Finnish.

6. Berries....the blessings of Finlands forests... oooh yummy!

My son's girlfriend's grandmother, bless her.. gave us a whole load of berries last sunday. Jake was on his way home on the bus, after spending the weekend with his love, Minna, (who lives in Rovaniemi) when her grandmother stopped the bus at the bus-stop near her cabin, to offer them to him...(the bus driver didnt seem to mind....) and it was not 'just a few' either! It was a whole large carrier bag full of boxes of fresh blueberries that she had just picked! She is in her early 70's and very agile ... as the contents of the bag showed! She really does not look it either! (( Many thanks Annikki! It was really kind of you! ))

Being the avid cook that he is, Jake made a lovely blueberry cake for us.

The rest is in the freezer - for now... but I expect that I will have to get my mehumaija out and make some berry juice concentrate! When I use that clever tool.. I will have to blog about it... sooooo Finnish!

7. Hunting season... ((shudder)) I detest it. Right now it is bird hunting season... Moose hunting comes later on.... :(

8. Having to wear a cardigan occasionally..... and the radiator on at work once or twice :(

9. ICE on the windscreen first thing in the morning, on thursday this week.... yep... already!

10. Everyone at work discussing the fact that the change is upon us!

These are just some of the signs that tell the summer is over, Autumn is here....and....Talvi tuleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..... (Winter comes.....)

(Please Mother Nature.. a few more warm days first; pretty please)

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

A different kind of reindeer....

As I mentioned before, my mother came out for a visit from the UK, in July. Whilst she was here, I was working on the whole, during the day, but took long weekends instead. With it being a fairly new job, I couldn't take time off.

Anyway, when my Mum was here, it was her birthday, so we threw her a party. That was on the first weekend here. A few friends came too, that had met her before on one of her other visits.

We made chinese, something that you can only get if you drive at least an hour or two - and even then, ours is much better! LOL! It was a boiling hot day, so not the time to be making peking duck, spare ribs, double fried chili beef, chicken and cashew nut, egg fried rice and desserts! It was worth it though.. who knows when I will next spend a birthday with my Mum? Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and appreciated the food too!

Later on in her stay, we drove north to show Mum what was there. We had explained that pretty much, it was forest, forest and more forest... but still we went! We just pointed north and drove.. not planning anywhere at all... just seeing where we ended up. Yeah... we went out as a different kind of reindeer (tourists!)

We drove through Vuotso, which is the border to Saami land. Everything from there on is in duplicate - Finnish and Saami language - two totally different languages.

At the border there is a shop called Sompion lahja ja koru (Sompio's gift and jewellery) which is decorated on the outside with the Saami flag painted on its wooden walls. It also has a curio outside, one of those very beach like quirks you might find in many a tourist destination... where you stand behind an image and put your head through the hole, to look like another person. I have been to this place before and I have to say that this curio is really good and has stayed in excellent condition - although of course, they bring it in during the winters!

We had a laugh with it as you can see. We were in fits, as Mum had her head at just the right angle and it seemed to be totally in keeping, not out of place at all.

Me at my inelegant best! :D


Outside, there are also examples of the old Saami way of life. There stands to the right of this photograph a njalla, which is the old way to keep foods during the winter, up high above the snow and hopefully bear free.

Also an uncovered lavvu (kota teepee) type home. Traditionally the way the Saami would live - oh.. and there was also a rather unfed 'reindeer'...LOL!

We went into the shop, where you can have a go at horn pyrography if you wish and the owner can give you a certificate to say that you have officially crossed the Saami border. As I knew they did this, (and for free) I asked them to supply my Mum with one when she paid for her goods. Mum didn't have a clue of course, as I had asked in Finnish.

Mum with the leather art on the shops doorway, decorated with the noitarumpu symbols.

We then went on again and there was another spot on the other side of the road, that took my eye, but by then we had decided to focus on another place, so we didnt stop.. but I would like to go back there one day. It has lots of decorations outside...ok, a bit touristy.. but it looked cute.

Finally, we ended up in Saariselkä. A nice area, which has recently undergone a major facelift, to enable many more tourists to stay there.. By the time we actually got there, we only had time to get a bite to eat and hit one of the shops there, the Kuukkeli, which is a rather large place, that has a little bit of there weren't so many photos taken there..too busy shopping! I have some other general photos, but will blog those later...

However, there is a wonderful piece of simple artwork there in Saariselkä....quite appropriate for me of course! So, I had to have a photo of it. There are quite a few references to rainbows in that village and I believe that there is a company called rainbow's end there too.

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All content, unless otherwise noted, is © ArcticRainbow and may not be reproduced in any form without express permission from the author, except for credited links directly to articles or to the main site. (I don't bite...just ask!) :D