Monday, June 28, 2010

Among the innumerable Aland Islands

After a good night's sleep and a smooth sea, we find ourselves in the morning winding our way among the innumerable Aland Islands ; the sailing is intricate and dangerous, but picturesque ; we are obliged to stop nights on account of the danger and difficulty in navigating among the rocks.

The Gulf of Finland, which we enter, is in possession of Russia ; by occupying the Aland Islands she is only twenty miles from Stockholm, and is, therefore, brought into close proximity to Sweden. Our passengers on the steamer are mostly Fins and a few Russians, and a more intelligent class of people than the former we never met ; they were evidently from the higher classes, and one of the young ladies was reported to be the belle of the capital of Finland. Of the party, a prominent lawyer and a member of the Senate, could speak a little English, and they gave us much valuable information.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jaampa, Jaampa, what will become of you

But Jaampa would not learn Norwegian, nor could he even if he wished it ever so much ; for who would teach him ?

What, then, did he do? He had again recourse, in secret, to the Lappish gods, who still were not quite forgotten, and whose images yet stood here and there on hill and strand. These, he thought, must, at least, be just as skilled in languages as himself, or understand both Lappish and Finnish, which he spoke equally well. He prayed, then, his own way; but when he prayed, where he prayed, and what his prayers were, the Lord alone knows !

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Twigs of the birch are used for beds

"The old tree goes on to say," continued Miss Harson, "that 'Finland mothers form of the dried leaves soft, elastic beds for their children, and from me is prepared the mona, their sole medicine in all diseases. My buds in spring exhale a delicious fragrance after showers, and the bark, when burnt, seems to purify the air in confined dwellings.'

"In Lapland the twigs of the birch, covered with reindeer-skins, are used for beds, but they cannot be so comfortable, I should think, as the leaves. The fragrant wood of the tree makes the fires which have to be kept up inside the huts even in summer to drive away the mosquitoes, and the people of those Northern regions would find it hard to get along without the useful birch."

"I like to hear about it," said Clara. "Can you tell us something more that is done with it, Miss Harson?"

"There is just one thing more," replied her governess, with a smile, "which I will read out of an old book; and I desire you all to pay particular attention to it."

Little Edith was wide awake again by this time, and her great blue eyes looked as if she were ready to devour every word.

"Birch rods," continued Miss Harson, "are quite different from birch twigs, and the uses to which they were put were not altogether agreeable to the boys who ran away from school or did not get their lessons. 'My branches,' says the birch, 'gently waving in the wind, awakened in those days no feelings of dread with truant urchins--for all might be truants then, if so it pleased them--but at length a scribe arose who thus wrote concerning my ductile twigs: "The civil uses whereunto the birch serveth are many, as for the punishment of children both at home and abroad; for it hath an admirable influence upon them to quiet them when they wax unruly, and therefore some call the tree make-peace"'" Malcolm and Clara both laughed, and asked their young governess when the birch rods were coming; but Edith did not feel quite so easy, and, with her bruised foot and all, it took a great deal of petting that night to get her comfortably to bed.

Ella Rodman Church: Among the Trees at Elmridge

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The wide- awake, liberty-loving nation of Finland

But what shall we say of the acute pangs of woe now gripping the hearts of the wide-awake, liberty-loving nation of Finland? Their constitutional rights — more highly prized than life itself — have been ruthlessly trampled under foot. Is it possible that today lives any loyal Finn who could find even a particle of pure joy in any one of these superfluous Russian holidays? Fast days, when they might call upon the God of nations for vengeance, they would gladly welcome. Finland's lament rends the heavens :

If I forget thee, O Helsingfors,
Let my right hand forget her cunning!
If I do not remember thee,
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!
If I prefer not Helsingfors above my chief joy!