So, I spent last week in Finland. Had really good luck with the weather, early May had been just as cold over there as here, but things changed quickly and I got to walk around in a t-shirt and the trees were getting greener by the day. The warm weather meant that the ice cream kiosks were open in Lappeenranta and I loved it – can you believe that just about the only thing I miss about Finland after all these years is buying ice cream from an ice cream kiosk. It’s funny how some things stick with us.

And then course there is family, and I tried to cram as much family in one week as possible. I did my first stop in Rantasalmi at my uncle’s place and I also got to meet some distant relatives I’ve never met before (my family has roots in Rantasalmi so I have lots of distant relatives there). It also turned out that one of those relatives I’ve never met before is an avid photographer and I really appreciated her vision, she’s creating pictures which are almost 180 degrees from what I do. Or at least 90 degrees… go and take a look: Riitta Heiskasen valokuvia. Done in camera, not Photoshop! What an amazing way to see nature, I’m totally wysiwyg in comparison.

After vising my uncle Viljo’s (for the first time – I didn’t even know where he was buried until recently) and my grandmother’s graves, I spent a few hours with my beloved aunt in Savonlinna. When I started driving towards Lappeenranta where dad was waiting, I glanced at Olavinlinna like I always do when I pass it. And I found that it no longer has a hold on me. In the past it has meant a lot to me, but enough time has passed and it seems that the connection is no longer there.

I have some old pictures of the city skyline shot from this spot and I wanted to take a new one to compare, but some clouds had other ideas. I had just enough light on these fresh maple leaves though.

Lappeenranta was the usual experience – an odd combination of the familiar and the new. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be walking on the streets of my old home town where my feet know which way to go, but where nothing feels familiar any more. Except for those ice cream kiosks. My god how I have missed them!

The next evening, sun was out over the whole city

Then I drove further south to see my sister. I got to meet my nephew as well, haven’t seen him since mother’s funeral. Same applies for one of my cousins, she lives close to my sister so it was a lovely evening to kinda get re-acquainted.

So that was a lot of family and relatives and a dear old friend, all in one week. It was a very happy visit, but in the end my heart yearns back to the mountains. The long drive from Stockholm gave me a lot of time to reflect on the past week and it was with a little bit of regret that I realised that I have become a foreigner in my old home country. And then I came across a group of reindeer and started smiling – I’m home.

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