During our last visit to Finland, I had the honour of staying at my late mother-in-law’s childhood home, in a small village, in the Finnish countryside. These days this ancestral homestead belongs to one of the cousins, Hannu. When I stepped inside the old country house, it felt like the earth had paused to take a moment to breathe.
While the rest of our maddening world goes forth at a frantic pace, only picking up speed, it is the quiet and peaceful places such as this that have escaped the bedlam. Here time has stood still. The rustic house has a deliberate sense of flair, and a soul of wisdom, as if it was born of romantic dreams.
Old photographs adorn the wallpapered walls, the grandfather clock tells its own tale, the perfectly curved wooden rocking chair sits elegantly in the middle of the country kitchen absorbing the sun’s rays, while the rest of the house is a showpiece of old-fashioned beauty, shaped over time by the generations that have lived in it.
Being inside the old homestead feels like the time continuum has folded, as if each generation were touching one another, or like time itself were many petals of a wonderful flower.
Finland is so far up north, that its winters can be rather harsh. This is the reason most of its birds are migratory. Yet the Grey-headed chickadee stays put. Come rain, hail, shine or blizzard, it remains a permanent resident of Finland. Not even the thought of the warmth of the Canary Islands can tempt it to change its location.
Being a migrant child, it is difficult for me to even imagine a life that is lived in the same house from birth to death, a house that has been passed from one generation to another, a life that is lived in a small community being known by everyone who lives in the same village.
Bird migration, on the other hand, is a huge feat of endurance, requiring immense strength and stamina. We marvel at this extraordinary spectacle as migratory birds undertake epic journeys around the globe, inspiring people along the way.
Whereas my family formed a flock of migratory birds as we moved to the other side of the world, Hannu is a true grey-headed chickadee, who stays put no matter what.
There is a story within the walls of Hannu’s home, that raises a longing in my heart. When the evening comes, and silence descends the countryside, and I breathe to the steady rocking of the chair, I know as a migrant I am never completely at home. That is the price one must pay for being a migratory bird and the richness of having lived in two countries.
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Oh Jaana, please publish your stories in a book. These are such a joy and blessing to read. Anneli
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I am SO glad you enjoy reading them Anneli!!