Posts Tagged ‘Midsommer’

Seniors, and the Art of Sand-bagging.

June 20, 2016

He often thought about his painting days. There were hundreds of them. In the past they were stored in the dairy at the back of their farmhouse “Rivendell.” They lived on this farm for just over fourteen years. It all seems so long ago now. He remembers taking many of his canvasses from their stretchers and making a huge roll of them. It saved space. This roll of canvasses needed two people to lift, and it too ended up in the dairy. The best of his work, chosen by his wife, were hung around the walls of their farm-house. Many of the paintings were very large. This artist’s work was always well hung. The colour yellow seemed to be dominant in most of his work, with blue the second favoured of the primary colours.

When the farm was sold and a move contemplated into a much smaller town-house, the issue of downsizing had to include the paintings as well as too many books, chairs, tables, and the flotsam that inevitably gets collected through the years, especially living on more than one hundred acres. While many of the items of furniture and books were given to family or Vinnies, Red Cross and Father Riley, the paintings had already saturated the ability of friends and family to soak up even more. In fact he was often very please to rediscover a forgotten painting hanging somewhere. Like lost friends, he often surmised!

It was decided that the best of his work would be preserved. Each time when family or friends came over, they would leave with yet another painting, a chair or table, books or other accoutrements superfluous to their new and smaller home. It is something that people growing older tend to engage in anyway. A kind of clearing up before the inevitable? Tidying up loose ends. Who knows? The stairway to heaven clearly signposts; ‘no tables, chairs or paintings inside allowed.’  ‘Please,take care of your wings going through the gate!’

When they finally moved to their new but smaller premises, those paintings that were picked out to keep, are now stored in the garage. With the deluge and flooding of the garage a few weeks ago, it was noticed to his dismay that water had crept up the canvasses. With yet another monster storm forecast, he went to try and stop a future flooding by quickly building another levy in front of the garage door.

To his great excitement, the levy would soon be tested. He keenly watched on his computer screen the blue mass, indicating heavy rain, predicted by Bureau of Meteorology (B.O.M), slowly creeping south towards his town-house with the now two levies in place (One he built some years back, soon after moving in). To really make sure, he had the backing of an extra eight sandbags in case of the levy malfunctioning. His wife had advised this action while watching ‘Follow the Money,'(Betrag) another one of those Danish dramas, totally spine tingling but nothing too esoteric. I find the complexities of British dramas, such as Midsommer and Silent Witness far too taxing now. Soon, I’ll be watching re-runs of Rin Tin Tin.

The storm came and went. The levies were holding. It was easy, because the storm was a bit of a fizzer. The paintings inside the garage have dried and everything is in order.

Ah well. There is still time to buy a good read;

Mid-Summer madness in Finland

June 20, 2011

| By George Dunford, Lonely Planet
Beware what you might see at midnight on the lake. (David Borland/LPI)
The colder the country the more passionately they celebrate their summer. So it is with the Finns, who revel in months of sunshine and cider on the terraces as they shrug off winter’s grey blanket to catch a Nordic tan. The signs are small at first – kauppatori (marketplaces) feature strawberries or peas eaten fresh from the pod – but by Juhannus (midsummer) the nation has definitely defrosted.

Usually the third weekend in June, Juhannus sees Helsinki empty out as Finns head for their cottage in the Lakelands. Many cottages still enjoy traditional saunas right down to the wood fire that has best lashed with beer to give the steam the yeasty flavour of a bakery. No real Finnish sauna is complete without vihta, the bunch of fresh birch twigs that are whacked against the skin to release their sap. After the self-flagellation, it is time to start drinking your way towards Saturday night’s bonfire.

The first kokko (bonfires) of Juhannus crack into life around 9 pm with the lights of neighbour’s fires ringing the lakes. Before Christianity came to Finland fires were lit for Ukko, the Finnish god of weather and crops, and the holiday was called Ukon juhla. The greatest of the bonfires was called Ukko-kokko, honouring the god who would bring great harvests when summer came to an end. Swedish-speaking Finns harken back to older pagan days by erecting maypoles (midsommarstång in Swedish) though the festival was re-branded for John the Baptist (called Johannes Kastaja in Finnish) banishing any unholy ghosts.

But Finns still celebrate with plenty of spirits. A couple of post-sauna beers are compulsory though many prefer a quenching drink that mixes gin with a grapefruity tang, one of the country’s most popular summer tipples. And you will need a good drink, because as the glow of the bonfires dies down the bravest (and drunkest) Finns will swim across lakes to bonfires where the party still rages on.

In Finnish folk legend, midnight marks the time when unmarried Finnish try their hand at spotting their future husbands. One belief is that if a girl stands naked over a lake at precisely midnight she will be able to see her future husband – who coincidentally is one of the drunk’s swimming across to another bonfire. Some of the folk magic must work as Juhannus is the most popular weekend to get married.

For those in Helsinki who cannot escape to a summer cottage, Seurasaari is the preferred place to celebrate Juhannus. Just over 10,000 Finns gather to see the large bonfire at the parkland island, which is preceded by the Midsummer wedding. A happy couple are wed in the 17th Century Karuna church then dance a bridal waltz. But rather than drive off on honeymoon they row a boat out to set a torch to the 10m-high bonfire that blazes into the night. Though as midsummer is the height of Finland’s midnight sun the night never goes much past twilight. This makes for a long night of drinking and a hangover that takes a public holiday to overcome.