Finding Petronella

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“It was not a bad highway, as highways go—long and flat and lined with evergreens and small houses—but it was a far cry from the serenely wooded trails of my imagination. Yet, Highway E75 was what I had. On my map of Finland it was a red line, pointing straight north. My head ached from the smell of exhaust and the roar of semi trucks. Curious faces peered at me from the… Read More

The Sami woman named Leena looked me up and down. I was wearing the warmest clothes I own—a ski jacket, snow pants, my best gloves and boots. Underneath all that I had heavy long underwear, a down vest, and my thickest fleece. I live in Maine now, I thought when I packed my bag last week to return above the Arctic Circle. This will be enough. “No.” Leena lit a cigarette and raised… 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

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

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