Simple work

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My mind was whirring with all the stuff I had to do and remember. Running behind in all kinds of important things I really didn’t have the time to go out and stack firewood! Although I generally love working outside, I felt like I simply couldn’t afford losing time like that, what with a few deadlines coming up next week. But then I went out anyway. Just for a little while, I thought to myself. First I had a hard time picking up where I left off last time. Also, a lot of the pieces were very crooked and hard to place to make a stable built. But soon I found my way into this simple work again. Every piece of firewood has its very own shape and weight, although all of them are supposed to have roughly the same length. Some fit here, some better there. And only some are suited to build the corners. I love how all those pieces make such a beautiful stack. I love this simple work. I love feeling, seeing and finding just the right place for an especially twisted log. The rhythm of this simple and quiet work makes it possible for my mind to settle down and unwind. I listen to the wind, the melting snow dripping from the roofs. A few early spring birds tweet. Nobody is talking to me or demanding from me. I don’t particularly think of anything special, but my mind starts coming up with new ideas and solutions to all kinds of things. Just like that.

And when all the logs are stacked, I am physically tired, but mentally refreshed and excited to go inside, make myself a cup of coffee and start tackling my more complicated tasks that I am now so well prepared for…by going outside and doing some really simple work.

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Sorting

Sorting

I have found that sorting makes valuable. A perfect example are, again, stones. Once I heard a guy referring to the area we live in as “one big heap of stones”- and it was not meant to be a compliment! It is painfully true, though. There seems more rock and stones than soil. Wherever you want to dig, do groundwork, build foundations, plant trees or a garden, there are rocks. Of all sizes. Some too huge to be moved by normal machinery, millions of small ones that need to be picked up in order to make your vegetable garden manageable. And all the sizes in between. Stones seem frustrating and quite worthless, and they tend to appear in places you don’t want them to be. But once you go through picking them up, loading them in your wheelbarrow, pushing your load to an assigned area, all the while sorting them roughly by size…you somehow experience that those worthless objects start forming into a treasure: raw material. And you realize that on the one hand, stones seem to be everywhere you don’t need them, but you also have a need for stones- everywhere! Be it simply filling holes in your bumpy yard or road, supporting different constructions, stabilizing fence posts, framing flower beds, to only name a few. Over the centuries, the most beautiful landscape architecture has been created by simply picking up stones from the fields and building stone walls with them. I kind of feel rich, owning lots of stones of different sizes. Whenever we need some, or a certain size, I know that I will find the perfect one- in the sorted heap of stones we own!

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Traditions

Traditions

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.

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Too simple?

too simple?

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?

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Flying kites

Flying kites

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.

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Simply beautiful

Simply beautiful

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:)