Thursday, August 21, 2008

pottu kellari is a tater cellar

Last post I told you what a mökki is and posted a link to a photo of someone's place in Finland, but I thought that I would dig out my photos of visiting Finland in 2001 and see if I had taken one. So, I found this photo that I took of a house just down the road from my uncle Leo's and Aunt Aulikki's in Juonikylä (my uncle Leo has sinced passed away; he was my father's brother). One of my pet peeves is the mutilation of Finnish words by English language speakers, so to be sure that mökki is not pronounced "mow-key", the word mökki, phonetically is pronounced more like "mHH-kih" -- at least that's the closed way I can think of to explain the sound of the letter ö to an English speaker.... Did you, btw, click on the link in my last post and read the story about the retired 2nd generation Finnish American man who stealthily built a mökki in his backyard so his wife wouldn't find out what he was up to? His wife, not surprisingly, thought his secret building of the mökki was the epitome of his all-time sneaky maneuvers: “You’ve always had a sneaky side, but this time you’ve outdone yourself,” she said. Interestingly, most Finnish Canadian older generation men here in northwestern Ontario hideaway in their "gratzih"..that is, garage in Finnglish. There is definitely less effort to fill the tongue to say 'gratzih' than "autotalli", which is a garage more correctly in Finnish.

Finns have no shortage of strange, small buildings about the yard, anything from a sauna to a lato and a pottu kellari. Here I am opening the door to my aunt Helena's pottu kellari. My aunt Helena has also since passed away. She was my mother's sister. My cousin, Paivi, lives in her mom's house now.

This is another pottu kellari. This one is outside of Tornio, in the yard of the summer place of my cousin Valma and her husband Mikko. At first I had no idea what this strange building was. I asked my cousin, "mika tuo on?" [What is that?]. She found my question very funny. Looking incredulously at me, she said, Tuo? Se on pottu kellari! What it is it for? I asked. She found that question very funny too. It's for potatoes! she laughed. For storing your potatoes!

Here is my cousin Valma with my sister Katja in front of the lato she and Mikko fixed up. They use it to store firewood, but originally a lato, which is like a small barn but not a barn, was used for storing hay or other such crops. You can see a whole row of pigsqueak or Vuorenkilpi in the flower bed. Pigsqueak is originally a Siberian plant which foretells its hardiness in northern climes. Tornio is way up north in Finland.

Valma and me on the front porch of her and Mikko's kesämökki [summer home]. My cousin Valma made us the best oatmeal porridge each morning for breakfast (served with her homemade lingonberry and lakka hillo [preserves]) and Mikko, without dispute, makes the best smoked salmon ANYWHERE!!!


Willo said...

How happy it makes a Finn to find another one! I loved your writing about little strange buildings.
I grew up in NW South Dakota in a Finnish family. All four grandparents immigrated and I almost thought Finland was my own homeland.
Rugs woven on my prairie mummu's loom, prairie berry jelly, celebrating Juhannus with a picnic with the entire neighborhood.
I went to Finland with my mother in 1980 and before the month was over, I was dreaminging Finnish.

northshorewoman said...

It is interesting that you have such strong ties to your Finnish ancestry even though you have a generation between your birth in the US and your grandparents immigration. I was in Marquette Michigan a few years back and it seems that Americans of Finnish heritage really claim strong bonds to their Finnishness, especially in a community sense, not only on an individual level.

Mouse said...

The world is full of coincidences!
After posting about my love of Lapland I dropped bu here to find this treasure, thank you
I wish, how I wish I could speak Finnish but even loving and almost marrying a Fabulous Finn was no help, hence my current French Fancy

northshorewoman said...

you might enjoy Rauna Kuokkanen's blog. Find it at the top of the blogs I have listed. Rauna is Saami and has written some very interesting posts about living in Samiland.