That evening, W took us to his mother’s farmstead in the village of Loue. The farm has been in the family since her parents’ marriage in the 1935s. The house was built by hand by her father (W’s grandfather), who used to run a small herd of cows and did a bit of woodcutting in between. W remembered spending some summers there with his cousins, playing in the woods and in the nearby river, but since he died, and his children moved away, the farm has been empty.
Looking inside, it was as if time had stood still.
You can see how simply they lived, with only a two-up, two-down house, a barn, a long-drop toilet, and a sauna (which every Finn house has, by the way). Their story probably is similar to all the small farmsteads all over Finland – too small to do anything constructive with, too far away from the waterways to be attractive to holidaymakers.
W’s elderly mother comes back every year to do a bit of maintainence, but since she was getting on, W decided to help out by clearing the scrub behind the house a little bit, with Hubby’s assistance. No fire bans here – the ground was still much too damp from the long winter.
While they did the heavy work, I took a little walk in the birch copse behind the house. Like foreigners are fascinated with gum trees, I was fascinated by the elegance of the birch trees.
They were particularly beautiful close-up, their white trunks reflecting the golden light of sunset. Afterwards, we used the coals of the dying bonfire to cook our sausages and drink a bit of beer. It was a satisfying end to the day.