Friday, June 21, 2013

The "Little" Things Aren't So Little

Last Sunday - my last Sunday in Finland - my good friend walked me back to my apartment; we walked slowly down the street and had some last, thoughtful discussions along the way.  During the winter she had given me some home-harvested black currant juice when I caught a cold and I had preserved it in the freezer so it wouldn't spoil when I began traveling around the country to visit schools. Now,  too late in the game, I could not enjoy it...I would be leaving on a double prop plane in the morning.  She offered to come to my home to pick it up so down the street we walked, past the houses I had seen many times in the snow, in the rain, and now the bright, almost 24-hour sunshine; past the hidden garden items now exposed from the lack of snow and the fiercely-growing organic mass that seemed to be taking over the houses.  Green was everywhere - a very enthusiastic green that grows almost 24 hours a day at this time of the year - it almost feels as though you can see it growing while you sit on the porch watching it.  If I were in Finland right now I know I'd be finding a way to measure the growth of grass and estimating its total mass of growth in this area - no doubt, a HUGE number.  Call me a nerd, but nature amazes me and its ability to combine sunlight, rainfall, and CO2 to make all this beautiful growth astounds me.  There are some days I wish I could photosynthesize and simply go without eating lunch... but not many.

My friend and her family live five minutes down the street by foot and one minute on bike - a bit more if I take the time to weave my bike lazily down the street and sing while feeling the air against my skin.  These friends have had me over for dinner countless times over the past six months - always involving kindness and respect, organic fruits and vegetables from their summer garden, carefully preserved in the cellar over the winter and lovingly prepared for their dinner table.  I'm not sure how I am so fortunate to have been included in their family dinners but my appreciation runs deep.  Their hospitality and friendship are genuine, kind, nurturing and so welcoming;  it is because of their generosity that the months of isolation during the Joensuun winter were far less difficult.

These friends reminded me, once again, that it's the little things in life that actually are the biggest, that mean the most, and that make life so beautiful - like having a friend bring you juice (and much needed vitamins) when you don't feel well or asks you over for dinner during the long, dark winter.  Kiitos, my dear friends.

That Sunday, as my friend walked away holding the frozen black currant juice, I didn't want to go back inside; I stood at the door and watched her walk away.  I didn't know when I would be able to see her or her husband again, I didn't want to go without seeing them, and I didn't want this period of my life to end. I will miss them and will hope for more time together in the future;  I hope this will be true.

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