On the first afternoon, aunt, cousin and Tuwa picked blueberries right outside the cottage. Aunt got so excited with the innumerable blueberries all around, soon she got tired of crouching and bending.
We walked towards the lakeshore, where L-Å prepared to put the jetty in place. It’s a long structure that is placed over the rocks and projects onto the water. They take the jetty out in the summer, so it is easier to dip into the bay, or ride the boat, or just plain sitting at the water bank. But it is pulled back and kept in safety in winter, to keep it from being frozen and led away when the ice melts.
L-Å didn’t want to bother the ladies for help, but we insisted, saying we were strong. But I got to say, the structure is heavy. But with cooperation, the errand came easy.
So we just sat on the jetty. The only thing my aunt and cousin dared to wet were their feet – and with a lot of complaint, too. It made Marcus realize that I wasn’t just being whiny when I complained about the cold weather. For Filipinos, 20 degrees warm felt already severe. The whole time we were in Finland, we Filipinos obsessed and whined about the weather. Terrible, terrible cold! It almost sounded like we were talking about Siberian winter, the way we whimpered.
Aunt crocheted a project, and so did Wawi, while Tuwa braided some threads for no particular reason. She simply wanted to feel crafty.
Later, Marcus led us to the forest. It was very cold, I had to wear several layers of clothes. We passed through the neighbor’s flower field before entering the woods. Tuwa forgot to bring a basket for whatever berries or mushrooms we might pick, so she had to run back to the cottage, and then back to us. I felt afraid she would lose her way.
When she returned to us, Marcus showed her his first catch – a legless lizard, called slow worm (kopparorm in Swedish). It fell on the ground and came slithering towards me, of all people! I am afraid of everything slithering and crawling. But Tuwa caught it again. The lizard was pregnant, and Tuwa carefully placed her on the grass. We didn’t want the lizard to suffer a miscarriage. (Click here to see our video of the pregnant slow worm).
We passed through a forest patch where trees were planted by men – because they stood in straight rows.
Later we inched our way through ferns. Ferns as we know them, according to Marcus, have been around in circa 140 million years, although there had been earlier forms of ferns. Ferns fascinate me, they had been around at a time when dinosaurs roamed. And my grandmother loved ferns, she had them as ornamental plants.
In shady, rocky areas, we stepped on thick mats of mosses and lichens. I love feeling these flowerless plants with my hands and bare feet.
Marcus, Andrea and Tuwa happily crouched to look for chanterelles, delicious mushrooms which for years (since the 18th century) had been food for the nobility.
My aunt and I were not very good at finding chanterelles. Marcus kept reminding us that these mushrooms looked like yellow leaves on the ground. But nope, we couldn’t see the meaty mushrooms, so aunt gave up and continued picking blueberries instead. She kept mentioning that her daughter-in-law Dana would’ve loved picking blueberries.
But after an hour of walking – when sunlight was slowly falling – and we were atop a hill, Tuwa went a-missing! Tuwa! We called out. We, the women, ran downhill towards the country cottage. Marcus went to the edge of the cliff, he dreaded that Tuwa ran too fast, not knowing that there was a cliff that she could fall from. His heart raced. And so did mine.
Tuwa! We, the women, called. We were very near the cottage now.
“I’m here!” Tuwa said, as she sat on the swing. L-Å was nearby grilling some hotdogs.
We had to run back to Marcus, shouting that we found her.
No, we didn’t scold Tuwa. We were all happy and relieved to see her. And to see that dinner was ready.
This wasn’t the first time it almost felt like a hole was shot through our hearts. We also got scared when we lost Tuwa in the supermarket when she was a toddler, and when she almost fell down into a bear’s pit in Berlin zoo, and when I sighted a long snake crawling parallel her in the wilderness in Arizona.
More pics in the photo gallery above.