Escape to the Forest

As soon as we decided we’d be moving away, I noticed very Buzzy Bees in my Bonnet about things I haven’t managed to do here yet. I haven’t seen much of Europe and I haven’t been to the Eden Project or learnt morris dancing or windsurfing or picked blackberries from the English hedgerows to make wine. I never even knew I wanted to do those last few things, but you get the picture…? Anyway, so when my Finnish friend said she was going to Helsinki, I was quick to grab my diary and mark last week in red, “FINLAND”. I would be paid by then for a recent copywriting job I’ve done, and I would be neatly sidestepping all the end of term goodbyes and tears at school: bonus!

Landing in Finland was like landing on a model railway – you know, where there’s miles of pointy pine trees stretching off around the spaces, with little mirrored lakes and coastlines all around. Flat, green, quiet – no volcanoes though, which our mini railway always had, or some sort of crazy crater or oversized dinosaur footprint. None of that in Finland – it was orderly, and clean. The air was so clean you could almost feel it doing you good. We were basically living in a forest!

The Finnish people love to pick blueberries from their beloved forests. If you imagine a dustpan with the handle on top, and the bottom edge is like a comb.. well, they take these scoops and literally comb the blueberries from the plants, bringing home buckets full of fresh fruit to freeze or make into pies (which I was happy to sample). I saw a little girl picking bunches of wild flowers – something we don’t see much here but it reminded me of times gone by. They also pick wild strawberries – smaller and sweeter than English efforts. The fact that there’s been a rainy summer means that strawberries are running a few weeks late. I know this because it was on the national news – such is the importance of forest fruits to the Finns!

Once I got lost and everything in me told me to worry as it was getting dark.. Later in bed (midnight) I realised I’d been silly because it still wasn’t fully dark! It was like living in a much better version of IKEA, but instead of looking out from your pretend-sofa to see lots of pregnant women buying tea lights and napkins, I looked out to see moss, lilly of the valley (their national flower) and a fern collection. Happy days. More on the city next time..

“Let the trees of the forest shout for joy in the presence of the Lord!” (1 Chron.16v33)

Our house in the forest!

Our house in the forest!

There were even cool caves to play in (old bunkers)

There were even cool caves to play in (old bunkers)

I love to see things growing in impossible circumstances!

I love to see things growing in impossible circumstances!

The ground was spongey underfoot like a giant marshmallow

The ground was spongey underfoot like a giant marshmallow