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February 07, 1957 - Image 19

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,, Thursday February 7 1957

T HE MIC H IGA N DAI1LY

Poge Nineteen

Thursday ebruary 1957%TH MICHIGA DAILY1P 1 1Iq;;ntee

I

FINLAND
(Continue ifrom Pag- 1)
have been nothing else but the
Finnish word for "American."
Still others came out of the
house - there must finally have
been ten or more - and each
came forward to shake my hand.
When we went inside, I dis-
covered that I had met only a
portion of the family outside;
there were additional women pre-
paring food, a few hungry children
waiting for supper, and two or
three more men. The oldest wom-
an in the group, probably sixty
or thereabout, was standing bare-
foot before a wood-burning stove
loaded with oversize pans and
kettles of steaming food which she
was in the process of preparing.
Once again I was greeted with
hand-shakes and a friendliness
both shy and wordless.
Dinner that evening was in two
shifts. While the children and
young people ate, the men with-
drew to the Sauna building near-
by where I was a participant in
the rigors of Finnish bathing
which combines the qualities of
fire and ice to clean the body,
shock the senses, and relax the
mind. When we returned, the
large table was again loaded for
us and the women and we sat
down to eat.
THE MEAL was eaten largely in
silence either oat of deference
to my speaking inability or be-
cause eating is not, in Finland,
accompanied by conversation; or,
I was beginning to think, these
were people who had lived long
and intimately together and found
verbal communication inadequate
or superfluous to their needs. Oc-
casionally, some one made a quiet
remark and others would look up k
or chuckle. That was all.
When dinner was almost over,
one of the men left the table and
returned with a thin paper-backed
pamphlet which he handed to me.
I opened it and found that it was
evidently a kind of instruction
book for learning beginning Eng-
lish. Appended in the back, I
found a double listing of simple
words, one side English, the other
Finnish; and I went through it
until I found four words which I
pointed out in order to the man
who'd brought me the booklet
to say "You are very kind." He
repeated the sentence and the
others smiled and nodded.
After we had eaten, my friend
motioned for me to follow him
outside. He led the way along a
path through the woods until we
came to a clearing in which a
wooden house stood, solitary,
brown, and sturdy. A man came to
the door and after a brief con-
versation between the two of them,
he turned to me and said, in
German, "Welcome to Finland"
and asked us to come in.
AS rr turned out, the man had
spent two years in Germany
himself, spoke the language flu-
ently, and through him, I was
able to explain more adequately
something about myself for the
benefit of my friend. We had not
been there long, however, before
one of the children whom I had
seen back at the farm house came
in. She said, I learned, that neigh-
bors of theirs who lived in the
summertime on one of the islands
in the lake had stopped over to
call; and finding that a foreign
visitor from America had arrived
wanted to invite me to their is-
land retreat for a cup of coffee. I
said, of course, that I would like
to go,
Four of us went: another young
man and two of the girls. We

rowed across the lake, taking turns
at the oars. It was not a large
lake and the water was smooth
and unresisting; and before I was
regdy to leave the boat, the calm
of the lake, and the golden gener-
osity of the late evening sky we
had arrived.
Our host, who had preceded us
to the island in his own boat, came
out to greet us and ushered us
inside. The house was tiny; one
room and a kitchen closet. But
it was rough and unfinished and
human and I felt at home as soon
as we had all squeezed inside and

found space to sit. A moment or lish dictionary had been dis- panions, as we proceeded, was taken me into his car in the first
two later, the woman of the house covered plus a map. By pointing small against the wonder of the place. He patted me on the back
appeared with cups of thick, black
coffee and passed them around, at single words, like sister," nd night, and said 'Hyva, hyva," d I did
The conversation was apparently "age," they could ask me clemen- Back home again, I found a bed the same. As I started up the
about me and, strangely, it even tary questions which I could an- waiting for me in the living room; road, I turned to wave and found
included me somehow because as swer by holding up fingers or and I fell effortlessly asleep. them waiting to return the gesture
they talked they looked at me writing numbers; and when they of farewell.
with open and cordial inclusive- found the word for "home" I "HE NEXT morning, early, there It took me four days to reach
ness. They were people of simple. could show them with the map I1Twas a big breakfast for every- Kilpisjarvi where Finland, Nor-
miraculous good will. I wished where it was. A finger on a map, one. When it was over, I knew it way, and Sweden come together
some further miracle might occur of course, is rather impersonal, was time for me to continue on my far above the Arctic Circle; and
that would enable me to talk with but they were people who under- trip and for them to return to one more day to reach Troms on
them. stood the meaning of the ward work. I held up my bag to indi- the Norwegian coast of the North
and it sufficed. cate that I was prepared to leave. Atlantic. It had been an almost
WE STAYED rather late because When we returned to the other Immediately three or four dis- wordless trip; yet warmth com-
there was plenty of coffee, shore, we left the boat at another appeared from the kitchen and municates as surely as words and
plenty of talk, and plenty of light; landing some distance from our returned with their cameras and I whenever a car stopped and a
although it was approaching mid- starting point and walked back we went outside to photograph door opened, there it was. One us-
night, the sky was still pink-gold through the woods. It was after one another. That done, I shook ually speaks of the frozen North;
and semi-bright and all the North midnight but the sky was still hands around the circle and said but I have also heard it called the
seemed timeless and kind. Fur- light and every tree was clearly to each one "Kiitos" (thank you); Golden North. There is no ques-
thermore, another Finnish-Eng- visible. The laughter of my com- last of all to my friend who had tion in my own mind which it is.

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,I

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