Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A busy week

There has been a lot happening since my previous post: his mother’s visit, his uncle’s funeral, reunion of former colleagues of mine, family gathering to celebrate my youngest sister’s 50th anniversary.

While we were away, most of our apple trees had started to bloom. The lilacs that carried hardly any blossoms last season have revived producing buds all over. The weather is just fine and nature is catching up, if not overriding our average conditions. There is so much to do we are again spending most of the day outdoors. Summer is here – bringing three or maybe even four more months of beautiful busy weeks, should we be lucky.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Flying times

Late spring and early summer constitute such a wonderful season. Each and every day brings so much new to observe and absorb. There is too much to do, there are too many roads to choose from and time flies. Even if I now manage with a 7-hour sleep instead of the 10 hours or more I needed during the dark season, time flies like a jet plane. And I’m afraid it will continue to do so for the next three months at least.

I should have known this because it happened to me also last year. Now that I am free to drink every drop of it in, spring is such an overwhelming experience – both mentally and physically – it will overpower any good intentions occupying all your attention and energy, which you will be all too happy to offer to it.

It has turned out very hard to return to our recent travels no matter how much I would have liked to, no matter how much there is I’d like to tell. But I will try, on the next rainy day at the latest. Until then, I will make an effort to embrace every moment attempting to silence the uneasy conscience, “Hey there, woman. This is not a job but a hobby. Allow yourself some slack!”

Friday, 17 May 2013

Maple lovers

My favourite plant in our garden is the old maple. (I confess, I’m a pathetic amateur in gardening.) It is beautiful any time of the year, also in the nakedness of winter. I love its crooked branches and the vertical grooves on the bark.

It is just the kind of a tree that is made for hugging. I am convinced you do not even need to touch the tree but being in its vicinity will already make you feel stronger and healthier. As science has put it so nicely, “Access to nature can significantly improve our mental capital and wellbeing”. I should put my arms around my favourite tree more often. 

The maples are rather popular also among some other species residing on our lot. Throughout the winter season, the old one offers all sorts of neat holes and cavities for the great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopus major) (käpytikka) to work on the cones they carry from the old spruces surrounding two sides of the garden.

The maples are now blooming in their adorable shade of green. A few days ago when we were having our afternoon coffee in the kitchen diner, we observed a few squirrels running around in one of the younger maples a few metres away from the window. There were three of them – a family perhaps – and they were eating the buds like crazy.

I managed to fit my point-and-shoot camera between the slats of the Venetian blinds without scaring them away, although in one of the photos the squirrel appears to be looking straight at the lens. He/she has probably been in that situation with me before (here).

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Cherries (and vet) revisited

Little did I know on Monday that I would have a chance to drive by the sargent’s cherries again on Wednesday. I took Jack to the vet for a vaccination – there seems to be at least one of those due every spring – and to have him examined because he has been limping his front leg for a few days. (You can find my post on our visit of last year here.)

The cherry blossoms were even more abundant than two days earlier. This time I was there within office hours and I wasn’t the only one admiring the trees. A gentleman entering the building on business commented on the blooming that it was so marvellous you might think you were in Japan. Indeed, if you crop the photos nicely, you might imagine you were thousands of miles away, not in a village in Finland.

As for the patient, he was vaccinated, worm-protected and thoroughly examined. It seems the limp is nothing serious, probably just arthritis we might want to start treating with a joint support supplement product.

Had the reason been the viper (Vipera berus) (kyykäärme) we found dead in our garden the other day the leg would have been all swollen. It looks like Jack the predator may have cleared off a life-threatening enemy from his territory without any particular harm to himself despite the fact that the intruder was a poisonous snake, the only one living this far north. The limp may be a simple coincidence.

If the fatal bruises in the middle of the dead snake were Jack’s doing he certainly didn’t get any bites himself. He has been enjoying life as heartily as ever. Above you can see him sunbathing on the cover of a sewage basin, one of his favourite spots when it is not too warm, and below playing under our patio deck. I never knew he could fit in there but one day he just squeezed himself under the deck. He must have caught an inviting smell of some sort coming from there.

Oh Jack, why can’t you leave the dangerous ones alone? (More on Jack here.)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

First pink of spring

There seems to be a nice spot of warmer microclimate some 15 km from our place where I went yesterday. All the birches were a bit greener there and I even saw a couple of cherries in blossom. It had been raining so the weather was rather grey but I had to stop the car and run inside the mesh fence of the school building to take a few photos. I couldn’t risk it. The blooming may be gone by the time I have another errand to run driving past the two lovely sargent’s cherries (Prunus sargentii) (rusokirsikka).

Sunday, 12 May 2013

2nd Sunday in May

Like in many other countries around the world, Mother’s Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May here. Spring is starting to be at its best and life is wonderful. There’s nothing to worry about, nothing to complain about, just happiness. I hope your day felt that way, too.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Happy retirement

Earlier this week, I was pleased to attend the retirement party of an ex-colleague of mine. I left the workplace more than 10 year ago but being such a special and close-knit community – a scientific society with only a few dozen employees – there were quite a number of us present who had changed jobs or retired ages ago. And she always was such a popular and well-thought-of co-worker it’s no wonder there were many who wanted to meet her on her special day.

She made her complete career in publishing so a personalized publication was compiled for her as the farewell present. Because I have always thought very highly of her, with very good reason I might add, as soon as I saw the invitation upon our arrival from Italy I decided to attend even if I knew I didn’t have the time to scribble anything in time to be included. Let this post be my contribution.

The newly retired is lively, bright and active, to put it briefly a colourful person, both externally and internally. She is a talented professional, resourceful and hard-working, full of energy and enthusiasm. She has the kind of honesty you do not often see. A constructive kind of outspokenness you just have to admire with a hint of envy at the back of your mind: I wish I dared speak my mind like that!

But even more than that I value and admire her for some of her other personal qualities. Such as her boldness. She is the one who will enter any new adventure fearlessly, the one who will lead the way to any unknown territory. She is the one who will cope in any situation and take the most of it without a trace of timidity in her. She is the one by whose side you will want to stay if you are in a strange place and uncertain about what you should do next.

And her joie de vivre. There will never be a dull moment in her company. Her table will always be the one with no empty seats, the one with the loudest and longest merry-making. At her table, there must always be something delicious to eat and drink. Conversion will be lively, witty and noisy. The topics may be anything between heaven and earth. There will be much laughter, there may even be some singing and dancing. But whatever there is, when sitting at her table you will truly feel smitten by the joy of life. Everyone should be blessed with at least one friend like that.

Dear M, may the sun continue shining upon you and your loved ones just as, I’m sure, your charisma will keep on glowing on those who are fortunate to know you. Because of people like you the world is a better place – and so much more fun!

I took the above photos sitting at a table in an outdoor restaurant by the square in Vernazza (Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy) a couple of weeks ago. I knew there had to be a reason for my overwhelming fascination for that particular spot on Earth at that particular moment. The below collage shows how it was at the retirement party in Helsinki. (More on Vernazza here.)