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. 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

Saturday October 11, 2014 It is somewhere way deep down in the morning before the light, and I am awake.  I am awake because I can’t figure out how to say goodbye. I came to Finland with the hope of being more than a tourist.  I wanted to slow down and settle in, to stay long enough to allow the people and the place to sink into my skin.  I have written about the major triumphs and pitfalls… Read More

This.  This is it, I thought, though I didn’t really know what “it” was. From where I stood on the summit of Morgam-Viibus, the rolling hills of Lemmenjoki stretched out for miles and the magnitude of what I had just done (in that moment, in the nine days leading up to it, in these four months in Finland, in the past year, in the past six years, in my life) crashed over me… Read More

“You are still here!” Tinnti the boat driver looked at me in mild surprise as I walked up to where he and a bunch of other men were seated on the bench at Kultahamina. “Of course.” “Where you been?” “Pihlajamäki.” “When you come back?” “Maybe next weekend to go fishing with Aki and Ami, and then in a few weeks I’ll go down south to hike Petronella’s longer route here over Morgam-Vibus.  After… Read More

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…do not seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Ranier Maria Rilke If you wanted to take the direct route… Read More

Petronella has come home! Retraction: (n.) withdrawal of a promise, statement, or opinion. I apologize.  I owe you all a retraction.  The entirety of my previous post is true, except for this one part about Solange: “My heart breaks knowing that she will not be able to experience the kindness that both Petronella and I have found within this amazing community of gold diggers.  I hope to share my stories of the magnificent landscape of Lemmenjoki… Read More