As I mentioned in the About-section, I was raised in the countryside. The older I get, the more I feel that the correct way to put it is that I was raised by the countryside and definitely, by the whole village.
In the 90’s, the depression hit hard on Finland. Many companies went bankrupt, huge amounts of people lost their jobs and in the worst case, their homes too. Finns describe this period understandably cruel and horrible. I was around 5 years old. Luckily, my understanding of it all was comparable to a size of a Barbie’s shoe.
I remember we had a big vegetable patch, apple trees, strawberries, black currant and raspberry bushes. The cellar was packed with mum-made jams, juices and roots. Our grocery days correlated with the expiring days of meat packages and thus, we bought them half-priced. Then, 400 grams of minced meat was enough for four people for four days. Nowadays, with Finnish meat eating habits, the same amount feeds three mouths at a dinner.
I remember my family made a year’s heating supplies from the neighboring forests. Me and my little sister spent hours in the woods helping (aka playing with imaginary friends). For the breaks of that hard labour, we had a bag of cinnamon buns and a bottle of mead.
I remember that on sunny, misty mornings in the autumn, I ran on the fields to scare hazel grouses up in the air, so my dad could shoot them. By the way, my dad would still ask me to do this if we lived in the same village.
I was lucky to have a full-of-life, just-graduated teacher when I started school. She made our class a tight pack through new methods like night school and camping. She used music as a tool of therapy, presentations skills and creativity. Local taxi drivers took me home many times for free when I was walking from school and they saw me on the side of the road. I must add here that everybody knew everybody in my village so this was perfectly safe.
I remember that doors were rarely locked and friends visited without informing. You knew instantly who was visiting from the rubber boots left outside, on the porch. I was spending so much time in my best friend’s house that their pets (and most likely neighbors) thought I was living there.
From this memory lane to present day, I had the most comforting incident this autumn. I decided to visit a beach where I spent summer days as a child. On the way there, a taxi driver spotted me and stopped to greet. And the beach wrapped me with the same loving arms as 15 years earlier. I believe that the open doors and co-naturalism* still exist in Finnish countryside.
* Yep, I am pretty sure I just invented that word. If you know a word to describe “gardening, hunting, farming, fishing, making woods, enjoying and co-existing with nature” could you please write that in the comment box? To me, “self-sufficient” lacks some emotion.