Kas in Finland 2009

A daily blog to keep my friends and family up-to-speed with my 3-month sabbatical at the Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA) in Suonenjoki, Finland. For my birding friends, I'll post the "new" birds seen each day.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dumroese in Dumröse and Poland, Mon-Sun, 24-30 Aug 2009

Monday we had breakfast. The nice woman asked if we wanted scrambled eggs and sausage. We said "sure." The eggs were great, the sausage was your basic, all-American hotdog. Oh my. About 11:00 we were met at the hotel by our guide, Ewa Pękalska, and soon headed due west from Gdańsk under pleasant skies. We took the more rural, southern route, passing through rolling hills with a mixture of hardwood forests and farms. The chief crop was wheat, with a smattering of alfalfa, potatoes, and corn. From Dąbrówka we drove northwest and joined back to the main route, Polish 6, Europe 28, about 4 km east of Domaradz (formerly Dumröse). Here the countryside was more flat than hilly, and the Poles were combining wheat with a ragtag assortment of combines ranging from modern types with enclosed cabs back in time to those where the driver stood in front. Within minutes we were on the outskirts of Domaradz, pausing for a photograph of the sign. The village is situated south of the highway, and we turned south onto the first street, which was cobbles. The main roads are all cobbles, and they make a square around the village. Many of the buildings had dates on them, and most of them were from the early 1900s through the mid 1920s. At the south end of the village, we turned right heading west. At the next cross street were three large, brick buildings that probably dated to the early 1800s. Ewa thought these were the farm buildings that went with the estate operated by the Zitzewitz family, the nobility, from 1440 through 1945. The brick work was intricate. It appeared that a short wall, probably adorned with a fence, lined the cobble road heading north to the largest brick building. Due west of this road is what the current guide book calls the “Manor Park” and is the site of where the manor, or palace, or estate, or mansion stood. While we were standing on the cobbles, a local Pole, maybe 55 years old, came by on his bicycle. He said that his father arrived in Dumröse in 1945 just after the Red Army “liberated” it. Because Dumröse was situated along the main route from Gdańsk to Słupsk, the Red Army was following it toward Słupsk (Stolp). This Pole recalled his father telling him how the Red Army burned many of the buildings in Dumröse, including the manor, which was apparently occupied by the “good, fair, and friendly” manager, who, along with his wife, burned in the fire. An interesting story. Who knows? Remnants of the Manor Park were evident; ivy grew underneath the forest, and several large trees were still growing. A massive Fraxinus (ash), three large Pseudotsuga (maybe Douglas-fir), and several large Fagus (beech). Due south of the Manor Park still stood what appeared to be the oldest house in town, occupied by three generations of Poles. At the southwest corner of the village was the church, constructed, or reconstructed, in 1907. From it, heading west, was a tree lined (Quercus, oaks) pathway, probably an old road, that went out to the “Noble Cemetery.” Here, the Zitzewitz family was supposedly buried, although all I could find was a single, large, cross. The local farmer had run a fence across the road, making it difficult to get there. I was the only one who crawled under the fence to investigate. Again, the ground was covered with vinca and ivy. Apparently the daughter of the couple burned in their manor by the Red Army was the last to be buried there, just a few years ago. An interesting story. Who knows? We turned north at the church and followed the cobbles up the western edge of the village. We passed the school, which looks like the original structure from the postcard, and nicer looking homes. These seemed to have been restored more lately, perhaps by people commuting from Słupsk. Where the cobbles rejoined E28 a bar stood on the southwest corner.

We tried to find the “evangelical” cemetery where the German Lutherans would have been, but weren’t successful. It was supposedly “in the woods” to the east of the village. We followed the cobbles east from the southeast corner of the village, but couldn’t find anything in the woods that look promising. It wasn’t on my 1929 map, although the parallel rows of trees stood as silent reminders of where the old roads were located, matching my map perfectly. We then finished our trip into Słupsk and found our hotel, the Villa Intryga (hotel of intrigue situated within a military base). It’s very new, very modern, with a lovely view if you don’t look down into the base. We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Tuesday. After breakfast at the hotel (and avoiding the now infamous “Polish sausages”), we spent the morning in the Słupsk archives, looking for ghosts. The building was a light green, nondescript building. The inside was “hospital green”. We hiked up to the second floor archive room. In it were three Germans who were digitizing every record in the archives, as they say, for future generations. The elder was Georg Nitzke, who was accompanied by a couple that was maybe 50 years old. I think they were excited to talk about something, and the hunt for Doom-rrruse-ahs was on. Within a few minutes we discerned that Lenor Sherdin was probably really a Schardin, Rosinhof was probably really Rosinenhof, and being born in Lauenburg was not a very precise location. Ewa ordered the first set of civil records, the only source available at this archive, and only dating from October 1874. The room smelled of musty books and for the most part, and after the excitement of new people wore off, the only sounds were clicking cameras and the noise made when you turn the page of a quality sheet of paper. It’s much more complicated that I thought, as every little spec on the map had its own source of records, so trying to figure out exactly which records to look through becomes the challenge. About 14:00 we decided to break away and enjoy the sunshine, and drove off to visit Lębork (formerly Lauenburg), a place named on many of my ancestor’s documents. Along the way we found the last White Stork (lifer!)in Poland a top a giant nest; all the rest had already left for Africa. We toured the city center (nicely restored like the others), noted the old wall and St. Jacob’s church, and did a bit of shopping. Rhoda found some nice Polish cotton fabric with an interesting print. We then drove another 15 km northwest to another spec on the map, Pużyce (formerly Püsitz), where my great-great-grandfather Edward (Eduard) was probably born. It was a village of maybe 15 homes, situated on a bit of an S-curve in the road, with lots of children running about. We drove through, turned around and drove back through, heading to the closest parish, which was in Breżno, about 2 km south. The church had been rebuilt in the early 1910s, and was apparently both an evangelical and Catholic church, which makes me wonder if there might be some old Lutheran records still there. We asked the locals where the evangelical cemetery was. As what would become the running joke, it was “in the woods.” We made the 500 meter walk out through a farmer’s field to the forested hill where it was. After World War II, the Germans were essentially kicked out of Poland, and the area they had occupied for several hundred years reverted to Catholic Poles. So, the evangelical cemetery was abandoned, and it looked like it. On the west end was a low, rock wall. The rocks were large and round, but the wall was only about 18 inches tall. Walking in, the cemetery was a jungle of trees, stinging nettles, tall grass, and other plants. One of the locals said that one of the other locals had tried to clean it up a few years ago, which I think meant they had cut down the hardwood trees, because stump sprouts were numerous, adding to the difficulty of seeing much of anything. The ruin of the cemetery was said, but I guess that’s what happens when you are on the losing side in a major conflict, the people who occupy the land have a different faith tradition, and the post-war struggle to just survive, and survive under a Communist system, takes precedence. We could find grave sites, and stones, but none with writing. The only marker still intact was a metal cross, and the name? Hertha Margoretha Domröse, the 9-month-old daughter of a Karl Domröse. A relative? Who knows?

We made our way back toward Lębork, skirting the main city to the east. We ate a “mountain lodge” restaurant along E28. The log building had a thatch roof and a large outdoor deck, where we sat, watching the sun set on another pleasant day in Poland.

Wednesday. Today we spent nearly 7 hours flipping pages in old books. We found a bunch of records for an Albert Dumröse, as well as for a Rudulph Dumröse. I have no clue if or how they might be related, but it was interesting to follow their lives recorded in German script. It was also interesting to see Dumroese spelled Dumroese, Dumröse, and Dumrös all on the same record. No wonder there are so many derivations of that name. About 15:00 we headed north and east from Słupsk about an hour to a tiny spot near the coast named Kluki. Here they have assembled an outdoor museum with original buildings from the late 18th and 19th centuries. It was interesting to see what some of my old ancestors may have had for homes and out-buildings. We then drove out to the coast and walked the kilometer to the sandy beaches on the Baltic Sea. It was getting late, a stiff breeze was blowing sand across the beach, so we enjoyed the view of the setting sun for a few minutes, and then headed for dinner. We returned to Słupsk and ate dinner in a restaurant beneath a museum near the old town. It was excellent.

Thursday. We hit the books in the archive office one last time. During the last three days we looked at all the records for places mostly south and west of Lauenburg. We really needed to see the records for places east of Lauenburg, but unfortunately they were in Gdańsk in the archive that was closed for the summer holiday. By about noon we were done, and headed east to look for Rosinenhof, the point of departure for the Ludwig Dumröse family when they emigrated in 1885. From Lębork, we headed south on to Cewice under sunny skies. Here we visited the “land office” to get some better directions on how to find Rosinenhof. After WWII, Rosinenhof became Klinka, and about 5 years ago, Klinka was absorbed into Karwica. We found out that Rosinenhof had always been a rather small spot on the map, and we would soon learn just how small small can be. With directions in hand, we headed south a kilometer or two, and then headed west toward Karwica. This little village, which had absorbed Klinka, was only a smattering of maybe 10 homes in a picturesque place of rolling fields and forests. Ewa asked directions from a local, and we continued another kilometer or south further west. Story had it that a school was part of Klinka. We found the old school building, which had been converted to a home, and its owner. The 60-year-old woman told us we needed to hike back east to find Klinka, so we did. We followed an old two-track through some woods until it re-joined a better gravel road, more woods, and then about 0.25 mile through a field, down into a draw with a small creek, and there was Klinka. It consisted of two buildings: a large home and a smaller barn. The road circled around back and dead-ended in a gravel yard filled with rusting farm equipment. As we past through the gate, an extremely agitated dog with fangs barred snarled and barked from the end of a stout chain. A good, intimidating watch dog. The entrance door was recessed in small alcove, and there sat grandma and grandpa and two grandchildren, one about 4 and another about 18 months. The man was sitting in a stuffed chair, the woman with her back against the wall and feet extending down the two stairs. She had an extremely sharp knife and two bowls, one with fresh pears and one with peeled pears. The pears were small, barely three inches long, and she could peel, divide, and core them into two pieces in seconds. Ewa had a long conversation with this congenial pair, and the grandpa indeed confirmed we were at Klinka, and from where we stood we could see it all. He thought it odd that one would travel all the way from the United States to look at two buildings. I found it odd, fascinating, that the Dumröse family would tell the agent at the immigration center at Castle Garden in New York City that this was their point of origin.

We ate dinner at the Restaurant Nostalgia, just 10 minutes east of Domaradz. It was an old mill with a lovely brick exterior and numerous pots of red geraniums. On its west side was the river and dam. The interior was gorgeous, decorated with furniture and furnishings that looked straight from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I ordered the trout that was to be boiled with vegetables in the traditional Polish way…. it came wrapped in aluminum foil.

Friday. By 8:00 we had finished breakfast and bid farewell to the Villa Intryga and were re-tracing our route back to Oliva to retrieve my computer cables. With that mission accomplished, we traveled down Al Zwyciestwa toward Gdańsk. Just before the Old Town, the traffic started choking, but we managed a left turn into the oldest portion of Gdańsk. Old in its heritage, new in its construction, old in its look. Gdańsk was pretty much leveled at the end of World War II, but meticulously rebuilt to its former design and glory. Neo-gothic and neo-renaissance ruled. Lots of intricate detail and gold leaf. Most of the buildings had elevated terraces or patios in front that led to the main door. We walked the main roads, all only for pedestrians, among the numerous amber and silver jewelry stores and vendors. Gdańsk is renown for its natural amber, which washes up out of the Baltic. At the main canal we looked over at the shells of brick buildings left over from the war, perhaps as a reminder of what was. About 13:00 we stopped at a shop and had some exquisite cake with coffee, and then walked over to St. Mary’s cathedral. The bell tower was being restored again, but for 4 Złotych you could climb up to an observation tower and look out over the city. Ewa and I took the challenge. The first third or so of the climb is a circular stairway about 30 inches wide with 8 inch steps. At the top the stairs opened up above the nave, and then it was regular stairs, and a lot of them. At about 400 stairs you climb the last steep 10 out onto the observation platform above the city, and the view was grand. Having burned off a few calories, we had some ice cream and then walked back to the car. Ewa delivered Rhoda and me to the Lezno Palace Hotel in Lezno. It was a palace, or manor, or estate and was now operated by the University of Gdańsk. Our rooms were in the annex, which from the old photos looked like it may have been the old carriage house. We ate dinner on the rear terrace. I had rabbit in mustard sauce.

Saturday. Rhoda and I had a bit of breakfast… the “Polish sausages” again made an appearance. We then walked through the main building (photo). Perhaps the Dumröse estate was similar in design and style. I asked the receptionist to confirm our shuttle to the airport, which she did. At noon we were on station for our shuttle. By 12:15 I asked the reception to call them. By 12:30 we found out the shuttle driver was lost and order a taxi. Fortunately, the airport was a short 10-minute drive and with Rhoda’s business class ticket, we avoided the long line at the counter. The flight to Warsaw was uneventful, and we arrived in a light drizzle. I walked with Rhoda as far as we could. We hugged at passport control. It had been fun to have her along and share the exploration of our heritage. I finally found an exit and walked in a down pour across the street to the airport Marriot. The weather and the thought of a $30 one-way taxi fare diminished my ambition to see old town Warsaw, so I had a bit of dinner and called it an early evening. I had to get up early for my 6:10 flight home.

Sunday. After 20 hours to travel, I arrived safely home. Whew, and thank God for business class! Otherwise, the trip would have been torture. Tomorrow, a summary…

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good-bye Finland, Hello Poland, 23 August

Sunday, 23 August. I found Wi-Fi. Read on for a summary of Thursday (the 20th) through today… We left Helsinki under cloudy skies at 12:50 on Blue 1. Despite flying business class, we were stuffed like sardines into an Avro RJ85 with about 100 other poor slobs. Tiny little seats, cold pasta lunch, terrible leg room… pretty under-whelmed by the whole flight to Copenhagen. The only saving grace was the nice young German sitting with us (yes, 3 seats wide in business class). He was very friendly and helped make the time fly by (no pun intended). We had a short lay-over in Copenhagen, and then boarded a small CRJ200 (like the jets from Lewiston to Salt Lake City) for Gdansk. Rhoda and I held down row 2, all the Poles were seated in the last 4 rows of the plane. Nothing but empty seats between row 2 and about row 18. Weird. The food was better and the flight went fast. Before we knew it we were landing in Gdańsk. On approach you could see the older European architecture, and the mostly butt-ugly, square concrete apartment complexes of the Communist, post WWII, era. The old town area of Gdańsk looked inviting from the air.

We landed at the Lech Walesa airport. I think it’s the first airport I’ve ever been in where a pilot car leads the airplane to one of the three gates. We walked across the tarmac to the one and only luggage claim. With our luggage in tow we started looking for our ride. No signs for “Dumroese”. We had landed about 10 minutes early so we waited patiently, and finally our driver appeared. It took us about 20 minutes to drive to Oliwa (Oliva) which is north of, but still part of, Gdańsk. On the way we drove through Trójmiejski Park Krajobrazowy (I think that’s correct), which we had seen from the air. The 20,000 hectare (about 44,000 acre) park separates Gdańsk from the airport and is a really nice mixed forest… oaks, beech, Scots pine, maple, basswood, and others. We soon found ourselves at the Pensjonat Stara Karczma, a very nice little hotel (upper left photo). The rooms are spacious, clean, modern, well decorated, and inexpensive (about $70), and it has free WiFi. Life is good. It's lcoated right on a main street (photo). After settling in, Rhoda and I headed off toward the Oliwa Cathedral (St. Bernard’s Church). It boasts a 7000 pipe organ. It was just a few minutes away, and we went inside. Unbelievable. The pipes are surrounded by intricate, moveable wood carvings of angels with golden trumpets. The first church on this site was built in the 13th century, with reconstructions after fires in 1350 and 1577. The current style is Baroque, and it is in-your-face intense. Mass was about ready to start, so we waited to hear a bit of that organ, and then continued our walk. Adjacent to the church was some sort of museum, and the grounds around it were an arboretum. That’s me with an Alnus glutinosa, the biggest alder I’ve ever seen. We were impressed by the number of people out walking in the sunny afternoon weather. Old people, young people, families, lovers, all strolling and enjoying the wooded park and flower gardens. We eventually found an ATM and got some Polish Zlotych (3 Zlotych to 1 US dollar), then had some dinner at the El Paso, where else? It’s under the hotel and had some outdoor seating where we could watch Gdansk go by. The food was pretty good. Tomorrow, Dumrose?

Saturday, 22 August. Rhoda and I headed down about 8 am, had some breakfast, and then walked over and caught the 61 bus. It was pretty empty. At the Tikkurila station we boarded the first train headed for “downtown” Helsinki… it only made one stop on the way and at a top speed of 160 km/hr is didn’t take long to get to the main station. As is becoming my custom, we left the station and headed southeast toward the Lutheran (Helsinki) Cathedral and the Market Square. Rhoda and I prowled the vendors; she bought some souvenirs and postcards, and we had a pear and Nutella crepe at my favorite crepe stand. About 11 am we boarded the ferry for Suomolinna. We walked the main path in simply glorious weather: sunny, warm (70 F) in the sun, although it was a bit brisk in the wind. The islands were covered with Finns soaking up the last long rays of summer, either sun bathing or picnicking. After a couple of hours, we headed back to the Market Square, visited the nearby Market Hall, and then did a bit more walking/shopping in the area, working our way back to the Senate Square and the Lutheran Cathedral. We couldn’t get in right away because of a wedding, so we soaked up some sun on the south-facing steps in front of the cathedral. After touring the inside of the cathedral, we agreed the crepe was long gone and decided to find some dinner. We tried a Finnish restaurant on the main street but needed a reservation (too bad, because the food sounded good and the prices looked good) so we ended up at Nuevo (yes Tom, we ate there last fall) for a very delicious meal. After dinner we hiked back to the train station. Rhoda bought a couple more stamps at the Kioski and after about 10 minutes we were heading back north to Tikkurila station, repeating our train and bus sequence back to the Hilton. Rhoda retired to write postcards. I put my feet up. After a day of walking on cobbles, my dogs were barking.

Friday, 21 August. Wow, my last day in Suonenjoki. Where did summer go? I finished packing and did a little cleaning before Rhoda and I headed up to the station for the 9:00 coffee break. After coffee, Rhoda and I stuffed my suitcase, full of everything I really didn’t need for Poland (extra clothes, photocopies, bike helmet, exercise gear, etc.) into a couple of taped-together boxes to be shipped home. It didn’t look too pretty but should do the trick. I turned in the key to my trusty bike. Farewell faithful friend. Heikki stopped b y with a nice birch serving tray as a going away present. That was kind of him. I had everything wrapped up by the 14:00 coffee break. While everyone was assembled, I made my last rounds of “good-byes” and then Risto drove us to the train station. We were a bit early, as I like it, and had some final small talk before the train arrived. Risto helped us toss the luggage into the train… this was an express train, so the cars appear a bit older and the steps a bit more steep, so his help was appreciated. It was very warm in the train, even with a few open windows and a cruising speed of 160 km/hr. At Kouvola we had to switch to a much nicer intercity train into Vantaa and the familiar Vikkurila station. Because it was 18:00, we made the short walk over to the Thai restaurant for dinner. We then caught the 61 bus, using our tourist transit cards purchased at the Kioski, out to the Hilton.

Juha, Marji, Jaana, Evemaria, Heikki, Katri, Timo, Risto, Markku, and Leo

Thursday, 20 Aug. This morning at 9:00 I introduced Rhoda to the coffee break, and then gave her a tour of the building, the nursery, and finally my office that has been my home for the summer. After the 14:00 coffee break it was time for my seminar. I knew I would have non-nursery people, so I tried to keep it fairly general, and fairly short. I introduced the differences in latitude between Finland and the US, gave one-slide summaries of nursery practice in the southeastern northeastern, and western US, contrasted the main differences between nursery practices in Finland and container production in the Pacific Northwest, asked some questions of my Finnish experts, briefly discussed the new collaborative work between Metla and the Forest Service, and then finished the program with a few memory slides. In attendance were Elena, Otso, Marji, Risto, Juha, Markku, Heikki, Evemaria, Ville, Leo, Jaana, Timo, and Katri. After a few questions, we moved down to the cottage by the lake. Heikki was busy in the kitchen and appeared to be chief organizer. We feasted on a what I think was a turnip and pineapple salad, green salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, rye pasty stuffed with lamb and garlic (photo), and raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream for desert. Risto gave me a nice Suomi cookbook as a parting gift. After dinner, the party wound down fairly fast. Markku, Juha, and I took a sauna. When we were done, it was the girls turn. Rhoda and I helped clean up a bit, and called it a day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wed, 19 Aug

I'm back in Suonenjoki, along with my new house guest. Yesterday I caught the noon train to Helsinki. I arrived at the Tikkurila station in Vantaa (just north of Helsinki) about 16:00. I took compassion on a tall German who was trying to figure out how to get to the airport. Since I was heading that way, I took him in tow, and we boarded the 61 bus to the airport. He went to the terminal, I walked over and checked in to the Hilton. My sister Rhoda wasn't due in until 19:30, so I took a little nap and ate the free chocolates. About 19:00 I walked back over to the international terminal and discovered her Polish Air flight was actually arriving in Terminal 1 (the domestic terminal, I don't know why) and she was arriving 15 minutes early. So, I hustled over to Terminal 1. And waited. And waited. The board said she had arrived. And waited. Where is she? And waited. Because the baggage claim was behind customs, I couldn't see in to see if she was waiting in there or not. Finally, it was nearly 20:00 and still no sister. I found the girl on the scooter who looked official, and she informed me that about 20 Polish Air people had been sent to the wrong baggage claim.... ahhhh, that's where she is. Almost as soon as I started for Terminal 2, there she was. We hiked back to the Hilton, talked for a long time, ate a little dinner, and finally called it a day.

This morning we had a bit of breakfast (way too many choices), caught the 61 bus back to the train station, found Otto so Rhoda could get some funny money, and made our way to the correct platform. We were joined by Heikki Smolander, the director at Suonenjoki, and boarded the 11:16 train for the 4 hour ride "home". Rhoda and I broke up the ride by having lunch in the dining car, and Heikki and I shared an afternoon coffee break there as well. A shuttle met us at the Suonenjoki station and ferried us back to the station. We took a walk, took refuge in an empty greenhouse as it rained hard for about 10 minutes (nice rainbow), and then had a potpurri of leftovers for dinner.

From here on out, blogs will be hit or miss depending on time and WiFi access. If nothing else, I'll post a summary blog when I get back to Moscow, the first of September.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday, 17 Aug

It felt like October today... strong, cold wind blowing rain about. A good day to stay inside and look outside. I spent the day working on my seminar for Thursday, and discussing the Iliamna germination study with Katri and Markku. I feel kinda bad. I thought the study would be a "quick and dirty" little venture that we could do and write up this summer. Someone forgot to tell the Iliamna seeds. Those seeds are a curious bunch and I'm looking on the bright side. When we finally get them to germinate, we will have a better paper for it.

I believe some sort of history was made today... a meal without a potato :-). I joke about this a lot, but the spud is a really amazing staple in the diet, and a meal without just didn't seem right. Tonight I went out to exercise and the wind was still cold. One of the greenhouses is empty so I went inside and did my circuit. It was still cold but at least I was out of the wind. It was so nasty that even the Wagtails came in and joined me.

This may be about my last blog. Looking ahead, I should be able to tell you on Wednesday how my sister faired on her first international flight. Festivities after my seminar on Thursday may preclude an update. Then, we head to Helsinki midday on Friday and I know the hotel doesn't have free WiFi and I'm too cheap to pay for it. If I find some WiFi in Poland, I'll put up a blog. So, keep checking, you never know. If nothing else, I'll run up a summary blog on the first of September!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sat, 15 Aug

It's still sunny here in Suonenjoki, but noticeably cooler. I spent most of the day working on a manuscript; I'm way down on the authorship rung but I just couldn't help whacking it with editorial gusto. It's going to be a good paper. Speaking of manuscripts, I was relieved that yesterday Juha gave me a thumbs up on the paper I've been working on. Maybe I have some of this soil physics stuff finally straight in my brain. After lunch today I made a trip to town. Got some cash from Otto and a few groceries. I'm starting to play the game of having just enough to eat with nothing left over. It's a little more complicated because my sister will be here, and I probably should be a good host. I had to wear my fleece while riding into town, but took it off for the uphill ride home. I'm going to make myself some dinner, have a beer, and maybe turn on the television. Here's a couple of photos from Suonenjoki for your enjoyment...

Down on the Farm, Thu, 13 Aug

Today about 15:00 Timo and I left work, headed for his 100-ha farm southeast of Suonenjoki. It was about a 55 minute drive. He has a gorgeous farm that has been in the family for three generations. It's mostly a tree farm, with some ground that he rents to the neighbor who cuts the grass for silage. Upon arrival, Timo gave me a tour of the house (and the cavern that he fills with firewood, oh my). Then, it was off for a hike and tour of the farm, and some berry picking too. Timo has a smattering of small tracts in varies stage of growth, from recently planted on up. Some areas are pine, some spruce, and some birch. We looked for chanterelle mushrooms but only found a few scattered alongside the driveway, but did better with raspberries and blueberries. The raspberries fell off the canes when you bumped them, and they were very sweet. Back at the house, Timo started making chanterelle soup (last year's crop) while I herded the spiders and other critters out of the berry collection. I knew that tomorrow morning they were going to taste great. The soup and Chilean wine were fantastic. After dinner we walked down to the lake and sauna. The view was picture postcard perfect. Lovely, mostly isolated lake with the sun setting behind it. We fired up the sauna and the nearby grill, retreated to the house for "snacks" and towels, and then returned to enjoy the sauna and the customary, invigorating, dip in the lake. Timo says the lake was warm. After a couple of cycles through the sauna, Timo had grilled up some sausages and corn on the cob. We finished those as the grebes made their last calls from the lake and the Whooper Swans announced their return to their nighttime retreat. A lot more talking and eventually a little cognac for a nightcap (or was that a morning cap?). I tried not to think about how short the night was going to be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wed, 12 Aug

My time in Finland is quickly fading away. I'm feeling the pressure to try and squeeze in as much work as possible this week, because next week will be chaotic. My sister arrives on Tuesday, I have a final presentation to give on Thursday, and Friday afternoon I say goodbye to Suonenjoki. So, the past two days I've been grinding on a manuscript based on ancient data. Fortunately, I have a resident expert on the same topic residing across the hall. I took advantage of that today, spending an hour with Juha Heiskanen trying to get my brain wrapped around soil water physics. I'm not sure what has experienced more shrinkage.... the peat in my experiment or my brain. The paper will be better for it! I also got a lesson in the proper way to eat lingonberry mousse-stuff. I started out with it plain. It was dry, like a dry wine. Kinda sucked the saliva out of my mouth. Eevamaria told me all good Finns eat it with a bit of milk. I then put some sour milk on it. No, no, no. Plain milk. Well, after three helpings I got it right ;-). The afternoon turned to drizzle and it still is (it looks like the same weather in Moscow today). So, I leave you with a photo from Suonenjoki on a day that had better weather. It's your basic building painted in the classic color with the traditional style fence in front.
I've been invited out for tomorrow evening so I won't post again until Friday. I know you're all disappointed...


About Me

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Moscow, Idaho, United States
I'm a research plant physiologist with the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert Ecosystem Program. I'm also the National Nursery Specialist for the Forest Service.