in the silence

In stark contrast to the Norwegian mountains, Finland is mainly flat. It took a while for my mind to adjust. It felt like my eyes couldn’t comprehend where the mountains had dissolved to. But instead of mountains rising out of winding oceans, Finland leaves you with forests and a list of lakes over 187,888 long. Days were spent eating homemade warm pastries, drinking coffee and trying to keep slim by having ridiculously hot saunas with nude old men. We visited summer cottages, picked berries, had more saunas, chopped wood for the saunas and jumped into freezing lakes. 

It was a forced month of silence for me, from a combination of not knowing any Finnish, and the families who took us in, not knowing any English. It was the first time in my life that I have actually shut my mouth, watched, observed and reflected all at once. It helped turn my ever charged mind off to stop, take a breath and reavaluate how I could bring this slower way of life back home.

There was an older couple, of grandparent age, who we stayed with for a while, who had life sorted. They had lived in the same home for over 40 years. They hadn’t upsized, expanded or owned anything fancy, they just maintained and kept things simple. They grew their own potatoes in the summer and in the winter stored them in their underground cellar for a staple supply. They grew what veggies they could themselves and had a nice selection of summer fruit trees. Their humble size sauna was big enough for just the two of them, it was modest but it did the trick. They didn’t stop doing things even though they were getting older; still riding their bikes to the local market and fishing at their favourite nearby lake in the perfect wooden boat they made. If anyone could show you how to slow down and smell the veggie patch it would be this couple.