From June to October 2014, Jenny O’Connell embarked on a walking journey across Finland, following the footsteps of Lappish legend Petronella Van Der Moer into the heart of the Arctic Circle. This is her blog.
Drawn by something I could not define, I walked the road to Monikkala manor. It seemed vaguely familiar, like a road I had walked in a dream last December. The crunch of the dirt road underneath my shoes, the fragrant smell of the evergreens lining the way, and the occasional mosquito bite reminded me that this time it was real. It feels almost ludicrous to explain how I came to walk down… Read More
I knew this would come, but I kind of hoped it wouldn’t. Today’s journey found me in a town called Kotka. It was the last destination I had to check off the list of places Petronella visited around Helsinki before I begin my trek north tomorrow. Tuukka and I explored the empty cathedral, and I noticed as I walked around the balcony that my footsteps were echoing in a beautiful way. Without thinking about it I started to… Read More
When I first set out to retrace Petronella’s steps across Finland, I was under the impression that she walked straight from Helsinki to Lapland. While that would be pretty impressive, in reality it would not leave nearly enough time for her to accomplish the trouble/fun/adventures that turned her into a legend during the four short months she was in Finland. With the help of Mauno J. Pyhtilä’s “Balladi kauniista Petronellasta – Lemmenjoen legenda,” Martti Peltomaa… Read More
“Are you going to work again? I’d rather you take a sauna.” Eija Heikura is about half my height, but I know better than to argue. Inside that tiny woman’s frame is a veritable tornado of cooking, cleaning, fussing, and motherly love. The night I arrived, Eija gave me her own peach-colored bathrobe with puffy sleeves straight out of the 80s and a pair of powder blue shower shoes. I took the… Read More
A Difficult Beginning… said the monitor at Oslo International, and I cursed in every language I knew and wished I had read that before I missed my flight to Helsinki. My 7-hour layover had turned into a 12-hour layover and it was mostly my fault. Lost in an article about Petronella, I had been sitting at the gate with my back to the boarding desk, waiting for an announcement over the… Read More
Now put my bag on the conveyor belt And drink the last cup in one go Soon from above the clouds I will remember this land I don’t have a certain course I will go wherever fortune leads me I’m carrying pictures with me But eyes aren’t meeting each other Dad I’m here on the other side of the world and I sing pappadaduda pa duda dapa Mom don’t be afraid I will take… Read More
My sister Caitlin sleeps on the couch across from me, unwilling to leave my side in favor of a more comfortable bed. I am curled into my favorite chair which has been reupholstered from scratchy gold fabric to a smooth, dull rose over the years. It has taken on some major creaks, but still holds me no matter how tall I grow. I am silent, listening to the crackling of the coals and the tick-tock-tick of the clock… Read More
Exactly one month from today, I land in Helsinki to begin my adventure! I cannot believe that the one month mark has arrived so soon. It feels like I have been dreaming and learning about this journey for a long time, and yet here I stand, ready or not, with a hard deadline and a date of departure. With the resting hopes and dreams of those who know me (or know of me)… Read More
Tickets to Finland are booked! Scandinavian Airlines: 16-Jun-14 (Mon) 06:55p depart Newark (EWR) flight change in Oslo 17-Jun-14 (Tue) 06:15pm arrive Helsinki, Finland (HEL) 13-Oct-14 (Mon) 01:55pm depart Helsinki, Finland (HEL) flight change in Copenhagen 14-Oct-14 (Tue) 02:45pm arrive San Francisco (SFO) There are so many exclamation points in my heart right now!!!!!!!!
Camp is set, our climbing gear is ready, and we hear the roar of a bus engine. Forty-six 6th grade girls pour down the stairs, giggling, screaming, laughing. Apples roll from lunch boxes, sleeping bags are piled unceremoniously on the side of the road, and we call them into a giant circle. I scan the crowd, soaking in the advertisements. Abercrombie jacket. Heavy mascara. Authentic Ray Bans. $200 skinny jeans. Brand new Keds… Read More