32 Degrees

I packed so wrong for Finland! I  packed for the lovely 18 degrees I was promised and am now regretting it in a scandalous 32.

It’s too hot to do anything before sunset. But that’s okay. I’m not looking to do anything  anyway. My husband on the other hand is very busy. He braved the elements to go to the library to fax something. Can only marvel!

DSCN5005

And wonder if he’ll find his way back.

Our neighbourhood has been called a maze by many a dismayed friend and relative trying in vain to find us. Many young suitors of Pietola natives have been lost forever in these two  streets.

Hopefully not he! I find I care a lot.

If he’s not back by then will go out in the garden swing as soon as the sun sets to call out his name.

DSCN5001
Normally I don’t do selfies but because the heat keeps me from going out to take any pictures of anything, here goes!

 

What’s in Your Dreams?

It’s hard to fall asleep, I know. But you made it!

I’d love to high-five you but won’t.

Instead I just look at you and listen to you and wonder what’s in your dreams.

Ladybirds, cousins, balloons? Or my tense, stressed-out voice from last week?

The images of your room perhaps? The only one you ever had, now empty and echoing, sterile and strange…

Whatever it is, I’m here. For you. Always.

And yes, let’s go scootering again tomorrow!

As soon as the heat of the day relents.

Making Maritime Memories

In Uusikaupunki, Finland.

A bit out of steam.

img_2250102027945.jpg

A little overwhelmed maybe.

img_41451564322262.jpg

Photos coming from home from where my stuff used to be. I find myself missing odd things, surprising things. Don’t want to go anywhere much. See anyone.

DSCN4697e

Just family.

DSCN4703

Was excited to go on a boat trip though. Could get up from my own funeral service for a fun boat trip!

DSCN4761ee

The boat is noisy. The underwater world is quiet.

DSCN4767eee

I can imagine little perches, roaches and Baltic herrings hiding from the afternoon sun below us. They are safe in the lush jungle of gently swaying seaweed that continues all the way to Sweden and beyond.

The pikes are asleep. Or sharpening their killer’s teeth for the night.

DSCN4759ee

Suddenly, a rude rumbling sound invades the peaceful paradise. It’s a motor boat, a small yellow one, with my son at the wheel. Sorry about that! Next to him sits my dad. He has a permanent tan and could navigate these waters with his eyes closed. He kindly keeps them open this time to for my benefit.

At the bow that’s me with the sore butt. Because a tiny motor boat, well that’s not always such smooth sailing actually!

DSCN4755e

Our arrival causes a temporary stir among the rocks and the reeds nearby. Engine off, the splash of the anchor, and silence. The submarine siesta can continue! Sorry, sorry. Sorry very much.

My very best summer memories are definitely from short or longer boat trips here and there. They all have this same silvery green frame of the sea and the islands. It’s a collage of heavy rubber boots, smooth cliffs, wild flowers and life vests. I would love for my kids to make some memories like these, too!

img_2114161525571.jpg
These were not our boats. We had a small fishingboat kind of a thing and then a small wooden sailing boat with a black mast.

DSCN4772e

img_41692029192646.jpg
Although this one has a black mast, it most definitely is not our boat. It is M/S Olga, the old beauty moored in the heart of Uusikaupunki.

Today’s memory will be that of the quickest island adventure ever. Because one of us was feeling a little smart!

And a smart one by the sea rarely ends up with dry trousers, I’m sad to report!

The fish watch the commotion in amazement. Their little eyes follow as someone’s  bottom half comes for a visit then hastily clambers back out of sight, leaving behind lots of waves and some confused seaweed. Frantic movement follows above the waterline.

In seven minutes the anchor is pulled up again. The engine propeller dives back in the water.

Rumble rumble. Rumble rumble.

Gone!

Everyone can sigh out little bubbles of contentment.

Until at sunset, the pikes slowly swim out of the reeds.

Farewell

This is my farewell. Brought to you from my sweaty bed where I’m trying to shake off a little fever, so I could go see some motorised dinosaurs on my last day in Geneva. Fingers crossed!

On a more romantic note, I remember our first evening in Geneva like a lovely, fragrant painting. A peaceful family painting that I was in myself!

DSC_0047e

(It could be of course, that the reality was more like Tom & Jerry’s  craziest than a Monet painting. After all, my kids were there! But this is my memory and I’d like to keep it please – thank you!)

DSC_0045e

From our hotel we crossed the street into the park, with the little one in his stroller. I still remember the ghostly shape of the Jet d’Eau fountain towering on Lake Geneva. (It just doesn’t show in the darn pictures. So maybe it wasn’t there that night. But I reserve the right to my memory!)

DSC_0030e

We were four years fresher than today.

The city was an exciting stranger. Someone to be curious about. To get to know slowly.

DSC_0307.JPG

That night we didn’t know a soul but each other.

Then one by one, day by day, month by month, people showed up.

And this post is about them. People from volunteer meetings, schools, stables, playgrounds and from right here in our own neighbourhood. Everywhere where we felt like outsiders to begin with.

Until someone reached out a hand and a couple of kind words.

DSC_0088.JPG

For those words, for those people, I will always remain grateful.

For what is life if it isn’t shared?

DSC_0562 (2) - Copy.JPG

As expats, we live removed from our home tribes and our home territories and our collective memories. At worst, it can be such a lonely experience.

So to recognise a thought in someone else’s words, and to receive a little smile as recognition of ours, there’s no gift like it!

20150131_103727 (2).jpg

I think it’s human nature needing to share.

Parenting kids whose childhoods are so different from ours.

Struggling to learn something difficult. Like living in a foreign environment.

Things that we feel, love, fear or can’t get enough of – most of these fill with meaning when shared.

Tulip with watermark.jpg

Views, country roads, hot summers, little boats on the waves of the lake – and you. All the former strangers I was happy to call friends.

My favourite memories! (Maybe to be joined by some robot dinosaurs this Sunday?)

Thank you.

Others

This morning was the first weekday morning in long time with nothing at all on my work to-do list. It was also the second last school morning in Geneva for my little suitcase kids. A beautiful, bright day in between.

Here’s the thought of the day:

Life here will continue precisely as before. Only I will not be here.

Soon, my home won’t be mine anymore. Someone else will be carrying their stuff up all exhausted and excited.

New kids will take my kids’ places in recess games.

Others will make memories where ours were made.

Others will pack everything a family needs for a day on the beach.

Spot airplanes climbing higher and higher overhead.

These pictures I nicked from my Finnish blog from June 2015 and June 2017. This June I don’t go around with a camera. I go around with way too much stuff for recycling.

(I am never buying anything again..!)

My Midsummer Night’s Dream

To the Swiss, midsummer doesn’t mean much. That’s because over here, summer is warm and long and not urgent and panicky and brief. Like back home in the north.

The height of the international Nordic panic is at midsummer when all Finns, Swedes and Norwegians simultaneously realise that summer is actually half way gone and they kinda did nothing to live it to the fullest. So they cancel their Netflix in a regretful haze, rush off to their seaside cottages and lakeside cottages and start posting about living summer to the fullest.

The ultimate Scandi Noir tragedy nobody posts about of course is, that when you try to go outside to enjoy the fleeting summer to the fullest, you barge straight back in again terrified, chased by a fierce regiment of organised mosquitos. No pictures of that on Instagram that I’ve seen!

And I’m not saying this because I’m jealous of all my social media buddies posting pictures from seaside cottages. Nope! No jetties, barbecues or rowboats for me please. Ditto birch branches tied together on the doorsteps of old saunas. Yucks. Brrr.

If anyone asks, I am NOT interested in drinking cider on the cliffs by the shore, thanks very much. Watching the sun set into the island opposite while quietly dipping into the lake would be my definition of a wasted evening. Same goes for sleeping in old boats gently rocked by the lovely little waves of the white night while water birds coo.

Aye.

That would be most undesirable indeed!

I much prefer to go to my storage room and cry looking at all the things I have to sort and haven’t!

So, happy midsummer, Switzerland.

I’m so excited to be living my summer here to the fullest!

Ps. It turns out I am going to a brunch tomorrow to mark the occasion. Not that I would want to! No, it’s solely for representational purposes. And I’ll be back in my storage room midsummer night’s dream before you can say ‘Hyvää juhannusta!’

Partir

At my last French class here, the talk turned to future plans. For some of us, those are a bit vague. Don’t remind me next weekend in the storage room again, but I think I said I like a bit of mystery and change.

Or maybe I said I like mastery and cringe? Still learning! But I said (something like) it and I meant it… Even when heavily intoxicated by the sight of the treats some classmatss had baked and brought. (They were as good as they looked. How some people can bake!)

Ever since I was a teenager it was quite clear, I like change and kinda need it, too. Without change everything fades into… comfortable.

And no, comfortable isn’t only a good thing.

Partir, c’est mourir un peu – Leaving is dying a little, claim the French. Maybe they’re right, but surely then it’s reincarnation too.

It’s a terrifying chance to use one’s imagination – like when we were young and had to decide what we wanted to become. Remember that trepidation, uncertainty and insecurity? Kind of liberating too, wasn’t it? At least in afterthought!

To my French class, un grand merci – j’ai tellement appris de vous.

Et vous êtes vraiment bons en pâtisserie!

Time Tunnel

Last weekend I was traipsing around some palaces.

DSC_0669

Indulging in decorative lunches on islands not so very unappealing.

DSC_0655b

DSC_0662b

DSC_0616b

Sharing rooms with my beau and only him.

DSC_0681b

DSC_0664b

DSC_0672

Getting carried away by history and white peacocks, statues and such.

DSC_0659b

Sampling the beverage of gods.

DSC_0663

DSC_0657b

This weekend I am sitting in the storage room underground.

DSC_0610b

In a big cloud of dust.

DSC_0635b

Who bought all this stuff that’s filling up my storage room?

DSC_0686

I am lunching on McDonald’s. Sipping the divine beverage of Coke Zero.

DSC_0640b

DSC_0629b

I’m sharing my storage room with no-one actually cause no-one would want to come down here.

DSC_0565b

Nor would they spot me from inside this massive cloud of dust anyway!

DSC_0538b

I’m so sweaty.

So dusty.

So dirty.

DSC_0565b

Maybe there’s a time tunnel down here somewhere?

One Thousand Mornings

We send them to school in their little beige shorts and their little white polo shirts, red jumpers still on in the morning.

By midday it often starts to rain big, sparkly drops of summer so that they have no choice but to run from class to class.

When I fetch them it’s sunny again, but the mood is changing. By the end of the afternoon it’s pouring.

Anyone who’s out then will feel the unsettling heat of the electric storm circling Alpine villages in the distance.

The thunder sounds especially eerie in the night. It echoes from one mountain range into the other as we lay in bed in between.

DSC_0495 - Copy

The next morning again into the red uniforms. Rain or shine, summer through winter, those smart little shirts and trousers. Red white, khaki, look alive please, please put your arm through here cause Daddy’s a good man and needs to keep his job, too!

One thousand school mornings like this.

One thousand mornings of these colours and this rush and now all that remains are fifteen.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑