There is no wedding video and the bride did not swoon or got swept away by a Sharif-like groom on horseback with manes flying, galloping along the shoreline of the Golf of Bothnia. Instead the both of us spent some weeks in a cottage at Ankeriasjarvi where we lived on lots of pancakes, smoked eel and fruits of love. I tried to catch fish in order to prove I would be a good provider for the future. After hacking a hole in the frozen lake and lowering my fishing line, all I got was frozen feet and hands. I improved a little, a day or so after, when I promised to make her tea in a billy in ‘the Finnish bush’. I explained this was a cultural initiation ceremony in Australia for all newly weds. Omitting to tell her that often it was a string of beer cans being pulled along a VW Kombi van instead. I made the best of the present romance enjoyed on the shores of a Finnish lake, sipping Billy tea.
When the day warmed up to a balmy -20c and a shy sun peeked a bit yellow, we both walked towards the edge of the frozen glistening lake and the pine forest surrounding and protecting it. In no time did we find enough kindling to make a fire. Snow in the billy for pure water and … on the fire…and soon we had a cup of tea… “Bob is your uncle,” I mentioned unthinkingly. Even though this latest was said in German, Helvi did not get it, but gave a smile anyway. “Bob ist ihr Onkel” . “Aber ich habe kein Onkel Bob,” she said. It was then that we realised that a better common language would have to come about in bits and pieces. There were so many funny episodes, we laughed our heads off in between.
One day we also went to a piano concert being performed in the nearest city named Jyvaskyla. There was a train service between Ankeriasjarvi and Jyvaskyla. Helvi must have got a timetable and as we had walked to the cottage and train station a few times during the day we thought we could venture the same after the concert finished which would have been close to 11pm. I forgot what piano concerto was being played or the name of the pianist. It might have included Sibelius music as an extra. It should have! At the time I only learned about J P Sibelius through Helvi. My knowledge about Finland was so limited. All I wanted to know better was the girl from Finland at the expense of everything else. The hall in which the concert was held was designed by Alvar Aalto. He was the world’s best known architect and no wonder, his buildings are beautiful and so is almost everything designed in Finland. Simple, utilitarian and a pleasure to look at, always beautiful, never kitsch.
We notified the guard on the train we wanted to get off at Ankeriasjarvi. It all seemed rather simple. That’s how train travel was in the time I was there. The train would have stopped at around 11.30 or close to midnight. It was pitch dark and quite a step down onto the timber platform. Perhaps someone helped us to lower ourselves. We had taken a torch to lead us back through the snow and along he path that ran along the lake’s edge. I could add that there was a gentle moon reflecting in itself on the white frozen lake but also helping us along and back to our cottage. It was a walk that could never have been repeated. It would have been a cliché. Our little cottage was still warm and we put on another log. Perhaps we had tea or coffee before hitting the sack. A great unforgettable evening. We both liked the adventure and excitement of that walk during that arctic winter’s evening along the lake having listened to a wonderful concert.