Saturday, November 3, 2007

Kekri aamu / morning

November enters the colours of darkness to the northshore of Lake Superior. Here is the cloak I found over the sky and water early this a.m. while out for my walk. Often, the sky/lake that greets me when I come up along the overpass to the lake shore is like....

a 60s velvet painting.

I never did get those velvet paintings, but now, after so many early morning walks along Nanabijou harbour, I have a sense of what those painters were trying to "get." Of course, it was an impossible task. The paintings--one of a pirate ship still hangs in my mother's laundry room, a yard sale find of my dad's that we all groaned about when he brought it home--come off as tacky kitsch.

Yet the vista, the vanishing point of sky and water that finds its way through my third eye? my heart? is velvet rich, beyond any palette or human imagination. A tactile feeling of the earth/water reaching in to touch your soul. A stroking. A tenderness so dear. So beloved.

Kekri is an old pre-Christian Finnish seasonal marker. It comes around Hallowe'en. Today it is called Pyhainpaiva (dots over the 'a'). It is celebrated the first Saturday after Oct. 31 and before Nov. 6. That would be today. People go to cemeteries to visit their beloved dead. They bring candles to burn far into the night sky. The vision of hundreds of flickering flames in the dark night sky, dotted among gravestones, is lovely.

Kekri was the end of the year in the old calendar, before Gregorian and Julian time colonization. It was the time when the kummit ja vainajat visited (the ghosts and beloved dead). The time when the cloak between worlds dematerialized and one could see clearly what was before one all along.

Kekri signaled the end of work. The harvest was done, field chores had ceased, the harvest was in storage. Preparation for the long long, dark dark winter was well under way. It was a transition that signaled a turn to a waiting time. Waiting for the darkness. Who knew what it would bring this winter? Who knew what sorrow would come knocking? Whose death one would have to grieve.

To survive the winter....that is the question.

No wonder winter was the time of stringing words together, through story-telling, song, runes, melodies. When women wove their stories into tapestries to tack on the wall and sung sorrows into lamentations.

There is lots more to Kekri, but guess what? I live inside Gregorian time and my work is never finished! I've got to get back to work ...

1 comment:

northshorewoman said...

from Hanna Snellman, who had problems getting the comment posted!

Hei nortshorewoman,

it was so interesting to read your account on the Kekri! You phrased it so beautifully. I wonder if the immigrants from Finland brought the Kekri with them fro the old country. Did they, for example, think the first of November being somehow magic? Did the try to predict the future from the weather, for example?

Those of you who can read Finnish can find interesting information on such traditions from homepages of the Finnish Literature Society,

Hanna Snellman
Lakehead University