Jenny O’Connell is a writer, musician, and outdoor educator. From June to October 2014, she embarked on a walking journey across Finland, retracing the steps of Lappish legend Petronella Van Der Moer. She will write her story, and in turn breathe life into Petronella’s story. This is her blog.
Once a year, when I’m out climbing a mountain or sitting by a river, I write myself a letter. When I’m finished, I fold it up and mark it with a (stern, brightly-colored) note that says something like READ AFTER 9/16/16! Then, I hide it away in my house for my future self to find. When I do find these notes again, they astound me. Yesterday, my heart got wrecked by love. I found an… Read More
I don’t usually do this. Share things straight out of my journal, that is. But this year when I began my masters in Creative Writing at Stonecoast MFA to help me craft Finding Petronella into a full-length book, I met a woman named Rose. Rose had a boy she called her son who died on tour in Afghanistan. He’d volunteered to take another man’s seat in a mission, and his vehicle was blown apart. She was… Read More
In the the middle of a pond on my friend Ami’s gold claim in Lemmenjoki National Park, there is a floating armchair. The water, which may be warm during the summer, begins to drop down toward freezing come September. What, you may be asking, could possibly motivate me to sit naked with a local newspaper in my hands in a floating armchair in the middle of a freezing pond? There is only one thing. She is a… Read More
Today’s Finding Petronella Kickstarter Update (Or: A Long-Awaited Update on the Status of Things) Tuesday, June 16th 2015 – somewhere around 11:30am Hello, Friend. The power is out at the Lake, and it’s raining. All the things that make life more complicated – cell phones, home phones, unanswered emails and things I feel I should be doing, facebook, internet black holes of jazzy titles designed to capture our waning attention spans (and cat… Read More
Today, March 20th 2015, is the Vernal Equinox. The day and night are equal. But from here on out, the day wins. Light wins. Love wins. I have felt so afraid lately. Afraid of losing: love, freedom, the very way I know how to be alive. I probably got too comfortable because I forgot losing all that, painful as it is, is not always a bad thing. Those who walk our path next to us… Read More
In my dream, I am a phoenix. I am standing in the wake of a tornado: shattered concrete, ashes, splintered beams, debris from buildings I have known, lived in, even. A wiry gray dog extracts himself from underneath a broken door, lifts his leg to pee, and walks out of the frame. The world is silent. At the highest point of the mass, the ground begins to vibrate. The rubble glows a golden… Read More
For those of you Finnish speakers, your moment has come. Here is a stirring, eloquent account of our epic 115-km journey to Lemmenjoki, written by none other than my partner in crime and modern-day Klaus, Annukka Rantalainen! Thank you to Seppo J. Partanen and Kultahippu for posting, and to Annukka for this great rendition. http://www.kultahippu.fi/tarinat-2/lemmenjoki/tunnelmapaloja-petronellan-jalanjaljilta/ PROJECT UPDATE: I am currently based out of a snowy cabin in upstate New York, and have… Read More
Do you feel like you need a little help from the Lemmenjoki Youth Club to get into the holiday spirit? Me too. (They might kill me for this. Worth it.) Starring: Jouko Korhonen Aki Karvonen Jukka Kela Ami Telilä Mullis Merry Christmas to all, and thank you for being part of this ongoing adventure.
The Berkeley coffee barista squinted at the Lemmenjoki gold nugget around my neck. “I just can’t figure out your necklace,” she said, “what is it?” I fingered the peculiarly shaped piece of gold and shifted awkwardly. “Umm, it’s a gift from the gold miners in northern Finland,” I said. She looked again, frowning. “Is it a map of Finland?” I smiled. I knew the inevitable, and the inevitable was hilarious. “No, it’s… Read More