“Satisfaction comes from giving up wishing I was somewhere else or doing something else.”
( Plain and Simple by Sue Bender, p. 141)
This is not exactly about things…more about traditions. There is this traditional Finnish First-of-May-drink called SIMA. Once every year I realize that I have forgotten to start collecting pop bottles early enough. Then I go and by Coke and Jaffa and Pommac, to the great delight of my kids- because normally, I do not by soft drinks. They get to drink a lot, because I need the bottles. Every year it feels a bit too late and a bit too much, and I think about skipping the whole SIMA-making thing. But when my children probe, with this special air of totally not getting the point of why on earth I would not make it this year… I have no plausible answer. “Too much” just doesn’t do it. Because really, in the end, it isn’t. Water, brown and white sugar, boil it up, add lemon zest and lemons, let cool, add hops and yeast. Let stand at room temperature for 24h. The scent as well as the visual of this bubbling pot brings back MY childhood years, when, growing up in Germany, my Finnish mother would every year do the very same thing. I remember how we kids would sneak down into the basement, look at the mixture, smell it, taste some (pssst!)- wonderful, wondersome and very special memories.
The next day, the mixture is already bubbling. It needs to be poured through a cloth and after that you bottle it up. The kids love to drop the raisins into the bottles. After about a week, the drink is all done. The more raisins plop into your glass, the luckier you are!
In Finland, the First of May is more than just the First of May. It marks the end of a long, dark and cold winter. There is still snow above the arctic circle, and even below, there might be some patches and mounts. But spring, and eventually summer, are certainly in the air.
It is difficult to explain this feeling. But somehow, even as children, we felt it- when Mom was starting SIMA. And having lived in Finland for the past ten years now, we all know it. This very feeling of vappu, the Finnish First of May. Every year I am happy I did not skip the tradition of making SIMA from scratch.
Things, stuff and traditions are constantly being questioned- and they need to be. This particular tradition is one that I intend to keep.
I don’t know the original title of this painting. But in my family it has always gone by “the resurrection”. I don’t remember if it was my Finnish grandmother, who named it this way, or my mom… maybe it really was meant to picture the resurrection by the artist? As a child, I would marvel at the colors. I DID see the angel in the gold, standing in front of the grave, telling everybody that the grave was empty. Looking in a different way, this picture is nothing more than placed patches. Today, on Easter Sunday, I am thinking of the Easter message: ” I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, will live, even when he dies.” Eternal life for me, because God’s Son died for me… pretty simple! But at the same time, one of the most difficult and maybe THE most controversial issue of all times…is it too simple? But wouldn’t it be easy to simply believe this?
Open space, wind, a kite. And a bar of Finnish chocolate… We have kite-flying season twice a year. It is either the vast openness of the frozen sea in wintertime or the golden fields of the great Söderfjärden in the fall that make us check on wind conditions, pack up our kites and go out there to fly them. It is fun to try to choose the right one, depending as much on the current wind as on the individual weight and strength of the person holding it. Sometimes I find it downright scary! I have to dig in my heels as to not being pulled over or up. My arms start aching. Still I want to try to fly those figures, use the wind and not be beaten by it, keep that delicate kite from crashing down. Landing it nicely is also a skill that needs a lot of training on my part! The kids are way more brave and relaxed with it. And my husband is a natural anyway. The colors are beautiful, and I enjoy the fact that for the time being, the most important is right there. My family, us together, feet on the ground and focus on the tiny colorful thing dancing up in the sky.
These two small stones were found high up in the mountains where “nothing grows”. Where there is nothing else than glaciers, snow and rocks. I always wonder about how such a tiny little piece of art comes into one person’s focus after many others have climbed by. And looking close, how many different kinds of lichen grow on that small area! There are at least 7 different ones. And they change colors depending on how much water and light is available. I love these two little rocks. I got them from my husband. What I love about him, is that he is able to see and find the special little things in nature. I got these instead of flowers:)
Those were the closing words of my Dad’s speech at our wedding almost 20 years ago. It could mean: “simply live!”, but he meant: “live a simple life”. Two words with a lot of wisdom in them. But also a goal set, which is way more challenging to achieve than I ever thought it would be. Whereas our parents were born into a world where some literally had nothing and were forced to live a very simple life, I find myself struggling to fight off all the stuff that keeps flooding into mine. Living in a simple way is not simple these days. In this blog I will share my thoughts about things and how they affect our lives.