From June to October 2014, Jenny O’Connell embarked on a walking journey across Finland, retracing the steps of Lappish legend Petronella Van Der Moer. This is her blog.
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
“I’ve let both you and my mom down, and I’m sorry.” I blinked back tears as I read the email again, and disbelief washed over me. It was from Solange. On my first day in Finland, I met with a reporter from the largest paper in Finland, the Helsingen Sanomat. He was charming, seemed earnest, and worked hard to gain my trust with copies of articles from the National Archives. At the… Read More
I was curious to know what would come out of my pen when I wrote my last “Hello Dear Friend, I love today” letter in Oulu. It was simple, it was everything that felt true, it was this: Hello Dear Friend, I love today. I love today because it is both an ending and a beginning. It has been a little over a month since I arrived in Finland, and what a… Read More