Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dog Lake Road to Howcum Lake Road to Warnicke Lake

I drove down Dog Lake Road this morning, and turned down Howcum Lake Road

Along the way, I passed the beloved lupins, abundant along roadsides in Finland during Midsummer, which also grow profusely along country roadsides here in the Lappe, Kivikoski, Jake Township and Kam area around here,

I passed fragrant fields of Labrador Tea blooming white like bridal bouquets along roadside ditches. This low-growing plant, abundant in Vitamin C, was the savior of the early colonizers of Canada. The Anishnawbek taught them to collect, dry, and crush the leaves to make a healing tea. This helped them survive the winters.

I passed Devil's paintbrush (once used to make eye lotions), Marguerites, which are also known as ox-eye daisies (which, like dandelions, did not exist here before the colonizers brought them out of their gardens to the land they named Canada), and mouse-ear hawkweed (the yellow wildflowers just budding),

and bunches of bunchberries brightening the understory of the dark evergreens of this great conifer forest of ours

I passed bedrock that have been blasted apart to make the roads we travel.

To get to Howcum Lake Road you have to drive past Surprise Lake, which I have already told you about.

I drove down Howcum Lake Road and turned off to reach Warnicke Lake. There are numerous small, clean lakes scattered in this area just north of our city.

This is what Warnicke Lake looks like from the sauna luuku, which is a small opening up high in the sauna to let out air if it gets too hot. It is a must for an outdoor, wood-burning sauna. They get hot! The luuku has a little wooden door to slide open, and a screen so bugs don't get in. Your camera will fog up if you bring it into the sauna, so you can only see the outline of the dock up front and the trees across the lake.

I had a sauna ja otin mun talvi turkkin pois, that is, I took off my winter fur coat. This is an old Finnish expression that means you got rid of your winter skin...that is, took the first swim of the summer (or spring), by having a sauna and jumping into the lake.

The water was VERY REFRESHING. I forgot my bathing suit, so I borrowed an old one from Armi. For me, the best way to get into the lake is not to inch yourself in toe by toe but to jump off the end of the dock and immerse yourself IMMEDIATELY. After surfacing, I shouted out loud, "Virkistyy!"....roughly, "Refreshed!" There were no other people in the lake as it was a cloudy cool day. But, as you can see, there were small water bugs skating across the lake surface and a few patches of blue in the sky

and the sun did try to break the stranglehold of gray, but didn't quite make it. The lake water is reflective like a mirror...

This is the joutsen [swan] that floats by the dock to keep you company. It is plastic, so, too, the rubber duckie.

After the sauna and swim, Armi had prepared a kahvipoytä for me. As usual, there was a lot of food for just 2 folks to eat! The salmon sandwiches were very tasty! In front, you can see a wonderful linen

window hanging. It was made by a woman in Finland; it was a gift to Armi. She uses it to cover her sewing machine. I said this is beautiful handwork! Get it up on your wall and show it off! Someone spent a lot of time to make this! She said she thinks it goes against the window as it is reversible. So, we held it up against the patio window and the linen weave is so fine in places that it is see-through. We thought the pattern might be icicles. Or maybe they are conifers? But what are those 4 squares?

Armi said she needs to give it a good ironing as she washed it in the washing machine. Ooksä ihan hullu? I said, looking at her with incredulity...Are you crazy? This should never be washed in a washing machine! She said she knows that but ... I said, yes, once I was too lazy to wash my fine black wool dress by hand and threw it in the machine, too. That was the end of my pretty black dress.

What is the name of your punainen ryyjy? [red wallrug], I asked her.
I don't know, she said. Look on the back. Maybe it says.
It did not.

Friday, June 27, 2008

from goldfinch to dragons

This is the chair that my sister, Katja, made for the Call for Painted Chairs at our Midsummer Arts Festival on Bay St. She impressed photos of an American gold finch that visited her yard onto an old oak chair found in the attic of the Finnish Labour Temple. Gold skeleton leaves for accent. The chair sits at the top of the stairs to the Hall.

a whimsical garden chair that evokes a summertime mood!

The Finnish Canadian Historical Society painted and donated this chair. You can see their pamphlet on The Finnish Experience taped onto the chair. The FCHS is a local group that has been busy documenting and archiving Finnish Canadian experiences and history.

Below, the poem "Midsummer" by Einari Vuorela that Kylliki Emily Parkkari read in Finnish at our festival on Sunday; I read it in English [find my translation below]. The poem is from an old book published in 1947 that I found a few years back at a rummage sale at the Finlandia hall. The book is called Suomen Suvi: Runoja ja valokuvia keväästä Syksyyn [Finland's Summer: Poems and photographs from spring to Autumn].

Juhannus ~ Einari Vuorela 1889-1972

On valon juhla, juhannus,

on lehtimajain aika

on herkimmillään kauneus,

on kirkkaimmillaan ruskotus,

yön varjoo pyhä taika.

Ui vettä parvet venheitten

käy saariin nuorten saatto.

Soi laulu riemumielinen

ja kokot palaa roihuten.

On mittumaarin aatto.

Koi* ajaa kultavaunuissaan

yön äärtä, taivaan rantaa.

Soi laulurastas nummellaan

ja käki kukkuu kaihojaan,

Maan pellot tähkää kantaa.

This image is from the Suomen Suvi book and is found on the facing page, beside Vuorela's poem. Each page of the book has a poem on one side with a photograph to illustrate it on the facing page.

This pretty white and rose chair sat in front of the entrance to our local Finnish newspaper, The Canadan Sanomat. If you click on this week's online version [vol 8 # 25] you can read their article (in the Finnish language) on our Midsummer Festival. Written by Anna Kaisa Kontinaho, it's called Taide, musiikki ja suomalainen pulla tekivät Clubin juhannuksen [Art, music and Finnish sweetbread brought Midsummer to the Club]

This humorous child's time-out chair was part of a boy/girl set. It got a lot of attention and bids!!!

This pale yellow child's rocker embossed with leaves and a children's rhyme was another favorite that caused a bidding war!

This chair also caused a mad scrabble of bids at closing! Suspended from its seat, and replacing some back rungs, are beautiful multi-coloured glass sun catchers.

This old oak chair from the attic of the Finnish Labour Temple brought the top bid: $100. It was painted by Kaija Maki in such a fashion as to leave the old patina of the wood visible.

Below is my English translation of Einari Vuorela's poem. [on the website devoted to him, read his seasonal poems. Lovely!...of course, you must know Finnish to read them!] To keep the feel of Vuorela's poem on Midsummer, I was liberal with my metaphors. If you read Finnish, please send me any suggestions in comparing the original Finnish and my rough translation.

Midsummer by Einari Vuorela 1899-1972

The celebration of light, Midsummer

is the time when leaves create a sheltering sanctuary.

Soul-stirring beautiful, Midsummer

is a brilliant twilight,

an evening lit with sacred magic.

Rowboats cleave the waters

as the young head off to celebrate on islands.

Songs ring out joyfully

and bonfires blaze brightly.

It’s Midsummer Eve.

Dusk* drives its golden chariot

around the edges of the evening, along

the shores of heaven.

On the heath, the song thrush sings her heart out

while the cuckoo calls out wistfully.

The fields of earth bear kernels.

A sunshiny summer field of flowers rocker

a delightful doily design

One of my favourites, a wolf tracks chair made by who else but the folks at the Wolf Tracks Anishnawbe shop on Bay Street!

The women at Bay Credit Union crafted a seat full of change!

And to Finnish off ;-) the vintage Oshkosh nursery rocker I podged with the red lentävä lohikäärme [dragon] print napkins that I bought at the tori [market] of Finnfest in Marquette, Michigan in 2005. That year, I went to present a poetic narrative on how the past informs the present. I called it Tietäjän Takki .... The Shaman's Coat.

* koi is both dusk and moth, which makes for an interesting image for the last stanza. A moth, koi, circling the dusk, koi [from koite]. Or is the dusk a moth?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Midsummer in the city

Our Midsummer Arts Festival at the Finlandia Club, as Eepu, Otto, and Urho can attest, both inside and

outside was a great success! This photo is by my sister, Katja. It reminds me of a long dusky summer night. This is the tower of the Finnish Labour Temple, which was re-named Finlandia Club in 1962. It goes by a number of names, including the Finn Hall. Some call it the Hoito, but the Hoito is only the restaurant on the bottom level.

Many people came through the door, young and old, Finns and non-Finns. We had great press, too, as our local newspaper covered it the next day. 5 photos and 3/4 of page 3 of the front section! Great local media support!

Arlene Korhonen-King put together this welcoming display in the lobby. The wood carving on the chair, given to her by her aunt, was carved in 1958 by a 10 yr-old boy in Finland. Written on the back is "Lukemassa" [at reading]. In front of the chair on the floor is an old vati. Tuesday when I dashed out to do some hairdos, one of my Finnish lady friends was horrified that another elderly Finnish lady was using a vati to wash her paremmat paikat [best places!] when she very well has a bathtub! Her bathtub, however, is used for storage.

Speaking of storage, I set up a Romu poyta ['junk' table] at the Festival, of old stuff that I found in storage, in one old cupboard. There is an old Polaroid camera case, an old statue of a flapper girl, an old British flag, an old sign that states seating is for 540, a 45 of the 1967 Centennial song, Ca-na-da, an old ceramic terrier bank that rattles with old coins, an old brass bell to call the cows home or the folks for puuro [porridge], an old wooden ladle, and an old iron object that I brought around the hall to find out what it is. One man thought it might be for making counterfeit $50 bills. Someone else thought it was some sort of iron for pressing. Someone else thought it was a crusher for grains. Shirley Kauranen, however, solved our mystery. It is a Victorian ink blotter for text or music notes. She was given an old set of ink pen and blotter by an elderly couple she knows. [The handle of the blotter I found is sticking out of the basket].

I also placed 2 old pictures of immigrant ships on the stairs behind the table. One says "Media & Parthia" on the left and "Cunard White Star" on the right, and the other

ship has "Nieuw Amsterdam" on its prow. This is "junk" found only in one very dusty cupboard!

We had a lot of artists with us this year. Chris Rantala, one of our exhibitors, makes all sorts of art, including painting on old saws and on stones. He placed his work on an oval rag rug his mother made. He is also busy these days designing and painting large murals.

Veijo Maki, who has a great respect for nature, had some of his paintings on display with his wife, Kaija, who helped organize our event with Katja and me.

Ken Kuurila joined us for the first time with his wife, Mary. She is Anishnawbe; he is of Finnish descent. She creates unusual jewelry; he does cedar boxes and carves moose antlers

into pendants such as this bear.... which I purchased for $25. A steal. It is smooth, warm and ....a very striking piece. I know I will get many comments when I wear it!

Eelis Hakanen, our oldest exhibitor at 87 yrs old, carves and paints. [Find him quoted in the newspaper article] This loon is one of my favorites. I saw a pair of loons swimming in the harbour yesterday morning and Eelis really is able to capture some of their black beauty.

Katja had lots of new art for sale, but I didn't get a photo of her booth because I was too busy!!!! Here's an image from her Orange Prayer cards. She created a beautiful gold finch chair for our painted chairs, which I will post next.

Debbie Shannon was selling the work of Anishnawbe painter Isadore Wadow. He is dead now; he was a friend of her father's; Debbie has inherited these paintings. They are originals. They are amazing. There is one of a turtle that caught my eye! You can read a bit about Isadore Wadow here If you are interested in purchasing a Wadow paintings, please contact Debbie directly:

Of course, Midsummer is best spent on the lake, such as this one painted by Eelis , who came to Canada by himself when he was 10 years old. But when you are an urban dweller and don't have a mokki [camp or cottage], you have to

re-invent old traditions. Keep the old, like Urho's haitari [accordion], but mix it up with what is around you.....Our Midsummer is a place-based, site specific celebration! Urho played his accordion outside by the steps of the Finn Hall, as folks milled about the painted chairs...

Friday, June 20, 2008

once upon a lake, soon to be a "tailings impoundment area"

You know I love water, so you will understand that I am reeling in shock at this latest move by our insane Conservative government to turn pristine lakes in Canada into toxic dump sites for industry. Heaven help us...or citizens-- get active! How many more blows can the earth sustain? Have we not learned any lessons from the past? from dumping toxic materials into water? onto earth? into the very air we breath? ruining the water, earth and air that our very own yet-to-be-born grandchildren will inherit? Please read below.

photo of Kluela Lake, British Columbia by Terry Milewski/CBC

"CBC News has learned that 16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly "reclassified" as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland. more...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

sunny morning, no rain

morning walk along McVicars Creek. I picked up

Musti and Tassu and headed out past the Wilson St. headland. The dogs chased a white-tailed deer out of the field. The deer lives here in this field and the small bush surrounding it, trapped in a strip of land by the railway, the lake, Northern Wood Perservers (home of the toxic blob) and the dirt road that leads from the end of Marina Park.

I believe this is the retaining wall of the massive toxic sludge of creosote that was sucked from the bottom of the lake and placed here. 100s of years of chemical poisoning awaiting its cleansing.

billboard of nothingness. It has no audience except dog walkers and bird enthusiasts,

that is, except for highly camouflaged killdeer which are scooting rapidly about the grounds

a cowbird couple observes the scooting from atop a hydro pole