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Archive for the ‘field trips’ Category

a day of contrast

As I write this — on this late Saturday, late spring afternoon — I can hear the pitter-patter of raindrops beating on the roof and the windows. Earlier there was a loud boom of thunder followed by a heavy downpour from our gray skies. This was what it looked like outside.

dark clouds pregnant with rain…

…that could no longer be contained

(Aren’t rhymes simply delightful?)

In contrast, the day actually started bright and clear. So Jaakko just HAD to go out because he simply could NOT be cooped up on such a perfect day (whereas I could but we never EVER travel apart so I just HAD to tag along, as usual).

We decided to deviate from the main highway on some parts, driving along the scenic route closer to the Ljusnan river, through small, sleepy, picturesque villages.

Have I ever mentioned how beautiful Sweden is in the summer? It is, oh it is!

I am fascinated by the different shades of green of the pines, and the spruces, and the birches, and the aspens, and the…umm…(I have yet to increase my vocabulary on Swedish dendrology.)

But I just LOOOVE the colors so much so here’s another shot of it.

And this is the panorama shot that Jaakko stitched together. Please click on it to get a full-size view. The hill is called “Offerberget” which translates to “The Sacrifice Mountain”. Oooh, creepy.

But isn’t it lovely? Isn’t it wonderful? (I’m hearing Stevie Wonder singing in my head.)

The family who lives in that charming red house is fortunate to have a view of the river across the road and the lush forest behind it. By the way, these red wooden houses are everywhere in the Swedish countryside.

Oh, but speaking of lovely greens, ahhhh, there’s more!

And I LOOOVE this shot so much that I must show you a closer view of it.

There were bursts of dandelions everywhere!

And I mean beautiful-bright-yellow-beautifully-scattered-EVERYWHERE!

We are so glad we caught the sun today!

Now it’s gloomy and damp. But then again, that’s perfect for a Saturday evening, isn’t it?

For a cozy sweet cuddle in front of the tv. What are we watching tonight, Sweetie?

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When the residents of Ljusdal crave for better shopping options, they drive 60 km east to the nearby coastal city of Hudiksvall. It is usually a 40-minute drive by car.

Jaakko and I have never been to the outskirts of Hudiksvall’s town center, so last weekend, to escape the heat in the flat, we decided to check out a certain “tourist site” that we found on the town’s website.

Kuggören is a quiet, charming fishing village occupying an entire tiny peninsula protruding from a larger peninsula (Hornslandet) protruding from Hudik’s coast. The boats find haven in a natural inlet conveniently opening west towards the mainland, away from the Baltic Sea.

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The first thing we noticed when we got out the car was the familiar smell of the sea. It’s amazing how certain smells instantly remind you of places and experiences you associate it with. For a moment I was taken back to the salt farms and fish ponds of Leganes, a town in Iloilo, a place that holds a lot of happy memories with family.

The beaches, both rocky and sandy, and red wooden houses are common sights around the dozens of lakes and rivers we have driven through in Sweden and Finland. But ah, the distinct smell of saltwater in the air — that made all the difference! That made the village especially attractive to me.

While looking out to the Baltic sea and listening to the noisy rush of the waves, I told Jaakko that this was our “end of summer surprise”.

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P1000983ooh, a wedding reception!

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Yesterday, two sweet ladies invited me to join their “Annual Raspberry Picking Day” at the property of a friend in a nearby village.

We arrived just before noon.

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Britt and Rakel set up our lunch boxes in the porch. We couldn’t go in because the house was abandoned three years ago. Berta, the owner, became too weak to take care of this large property all by herself. She now lives in an apartment in the town center.

We began the “work” before lunch.

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The containers must be tied around the hips, so both hands are free to fend off the bushes and pick the berries.

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This is the bush that we raided. It continues on behind the barn.

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Some raspberries could be plucked easily when they are found along the perimeter.

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But most of the time, we had to “wade” through thick and thorny bushes. And then there were the occasional pestering nettles, which “burned” our hands.

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The berries were sweet and in the beginning, I think I ate as much as I saved in the box.

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Oh, lookie! There were red currants…

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…and gooseberries, too! (Both aren’t very tasty though.)

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I was able to fill up just one puny box (excuse: I was mostly taking photos)…

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…while Britt and Rakel took home two containers each. Good work, ladies!

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After lunch, we picked more raspberries to share with Berta, as a gesture of thanks for allowing us to harvest in her land.

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I knew exactly what to do with these berries!

Inspired by Joy’s blueberry picking and subsequent pie, I decided to bake a raspberry version. Here is the recipe that I followed, albeit unfaithfully, replacing the 1 dl of white flour to graham’s flour, which made the dough rather sticky, which discouraged me from rolling the last third of the dough to lay on top of the pie.

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As expected, the filling had a seedy texture, but as not expected, it was a bit sour (they tasted sweet when fresh). The redeeming thing is that when one eats it with the thick crust, the sourness is neutralized. Altogether, with whipped cream and vanilla sugar on top, this should make for a good dessert.

Now the raspberry isn’t really my favorite fruit for a pie, nor am I an avid fan of any pie. But I relish in the fact that this is the product of my first serious try at berry-picking and more so, wonderful fellowship with two kind, faithful souls.

So the best part of yesterday wasn’t the pie, really, but rather the picking.

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III. The Cast of Characters

“And…ACTION!”

Upon arriving in Nivala, the entire brood (sans Annu and Aleksi because they had summer jobs) was tasked to paint the family home. It was a wonderful feeling to work together as a family and I can imagine how proud Isa and Äiti must have felt, seeing their grown kids’ families, bonding over conversations, paint, play and hearty meals.

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After two days of painting, we were free to laze around the town, visiting family and friends.

P1000474Guess where we were at!

P1000537The cows were huge (!!!) and curious. I was a bit scared — can you tell?

P1000485We visited the cemetery with Äiti to water the flowers in the graves of their dead relatives.

P1000536With Maire and Arvo (Jaakko’s dad’s eldest brother): Maire recently celebrated her 80th birthday and guess what her husband got her? A brand new laptop! Although, she said she was simply hoping for a “rollator”. Now, they are both learning to send emails. Lesson: “It is never too late to learn new tricks.”

P1000362those beautiful finns, fooling around with the new cam

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A day after we returned to Ljusdal, Leena and Antti came a-visitin’, having driven along the same route we took, and will continue on to Stockholm and then to a ferry to Turku in Finland.

P1000724Leena and Antti are true-blue nature-lovers.

P1000709While having fika on top of Avholmsberget, surrounded by the chatter of people in the other tables, Leena asked, “Do you hear the blackbird singing?” Only she and Antti heard it!

P1000700Here, Leena is in her element: examining local growths and checking to see if they are included in her book of flora and fauna of Scandinavia. Also, she doesn’t know the Swedish word for “sparrow”, but she sure knows it in Latin! You’re amazing, Leena-darling!

P1000729Do you see any resemblance? Jaakko and his sisters take after their mom, while Antti and Ilkka look more like their dad. Antti is about 195 cm tall (over 6’4″ !!!), which makes him the tallest man I have ever met.

P1000730After a few hours of shopping around town and finding the perfect clothes for her, Leena exclaimed, “Ljusdal rocks!” I agree!

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A day after they left, Joy and Marcus arrived by train from Norrköping, in the south. I had gotten to know Joy when I became a fan of her engaging and intelligent blog. We formally met last summer when Jaakko and I passed through their city during our tour of the south.

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P1000790In Gröntjärn (translates to “green small-lake”), Jaakko prepared the fire for grilling the sausages…

P1000789…while Joy shaved some wood as grilling stick. It was Marcus, though, who made the perfect one, with two twigs sticking out from one, creating a “V”, which functions effectively like a fork. (Sorry, no photo of that!)

P1000775In Orbaden (known as “Hälsingland’s Riviera”), the water was so cold that my feet instinctively recoiled after dipping a toe in. It wasn’t a wonder then that we didn’t see grown-ups swimming that day, only the little ones. I wonder if their physical resistance was born out of their stubborn will just to play in the water. They are kids, are they not?

P1000772Joy wrote a wonderful feature about their trip here and displayed more photos here.

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Every time I travel back to my home city of Iloilo, as the plane makes a turn above the strait between Guimaras and Panay and descends for landing, looking out from the small window to the vastness of sky and earth, I would silently sing this hymn* I learned from childhood. It seems appropriate to share that song now, as I found myself singing it again, during these two weeks of comings and goings…
Jaakko and I, among family and friends, in our part of the North.

For the beauty of the earth, for the wonder of the skies,
For the love which from our birth, over and around us lies.

For the gift of human love — brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise!

———-

*For the Beauty of the Earth, by Folliott Pierpoint, 1864

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II. The Stage and Backdrop
blues
and greens
and everything in between

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So for our annual trip to Finland, we decided to divert from our usual route (Ljusdal-Stockholm-ferry through Baltic Sea-Turku-Nivala) and instead, drove the car all the way to Jaakko’s “home-home” through Northern Sweden.

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After a week there, Leena and Antti followed us home to Sweden and they stayed with us for three days. As soon as they left, it was Joy and Marcus’ turn for a tour of the land. But prior to the past two weeks of comings and goings, Jaakko and I had also enjoyed driving to nearby villages during the weekends.

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This is our part and path in the North, in this Glorious Summer.

I. The Accessories
summer yields:
wildflowers and strawberries

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in Swedish, “motiv från helgen”

On weekends, we escape the confines of our apartment by taking short drives and walks. This is actually our version of a romantic getaway.

These are some photographs we took over the weekend. I find them strangely “poetic”.

a bend in the road

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a meadow, hidden

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…and found!

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lovers

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…in the lake of shining waters*

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*  The term “Lake of Shining Waters” is taken from my beloved Anne of Green Gables Series by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

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