By Enrique Tessieri
Three matters happen to some of us when we move to a foreign country: We learn to live with separation and yearning. Some of us grasp as well that in each farewell we die a little as the French poet, Edmond Haraucourt, once wrote.
In distant lands we learn to hear those lachrymose tunes emanating from the woods and that in each season the concert is different but the same.
The forest under sub-zero temperatures has many personalities. Contrary to humans, and since trees and plants cannot move like humans, they must travel with their imagination and with the help of the seasons.
Do they feel separation, yearning and change as we do? The answer may lie in the many flakes of snow that descend on our faces, each having a different weight thawing into water.
Is the acceptance of winter to my silence and stance an assurance that Finland has never forgotten me, even if I live today in faraway lands?
A group of Finnish settlers in Misiones, Argentina, in the 1920s.
In foreign lands I have heard spring water trickling and budding leaves thousands of kilometers from the source in Finland. In foreign lands, I’ve paid closer attention to the three springs: early spring; mid-spring; and late-spring. I especially miss mid-spring, or those days that begin to announce faintly summer’s approach.
Such days overflow with sunlight, with nights still infatuated with pitch-darkness. Nature’s susurrations are everywhere. Under the sweet scent of birches, spruces and firs, lichen releases a soft crackling sound that sounds like an enormous just-opened bottle of lightly carbonated mineral water.
The separation of late-spring and early-summer ends with a furious knockout punch to the former.
There are two types of longing that some experienced: faint and strong. They are no different from the sub-seasons you’ll find in spring and in summer. Summer is so short in these latitudes that you can almost count the days with your fingers.
Days continue to get longer in early-summer until they reach their zenith in midsummer. Summer eventually learns to balance itself over the landscape in harmony and is at a perfect distance from its predecessor and successor, spring and autumn.
I occasionally take afternoon naps on summer. Rain makes me drowsy. If you listen closely, each raindrop that splashes on the roof has a different sound. It is like a lullaby that puts me to sleep.
Around mid-July, the sun barely winks or hints of dark night. Now twilight and darkness appear on tiptoes and with great care begin rearranging the landscapes for autumn.
Summer can be a tragedy for some.
When autumn leaves and colors begin to abound, it is a time for some of us to bid Finland farewell and return to our homes in foreign lands. If you still haven’t left, darkness is now so thick that one feels as if he were floating in the abyss like in early and mid-spring.
The real reason why some of us return to Finland in summer is because we fear that our former childhood landscapes may forsake us. Every time we return to our former homes and say farewell we are modestly reaffirming that we are and continue to be Finns irrespective of our new religious, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.
Even if some would want to banish us for good from this land, its useless because everyone knows that you cannot intimidate your deepest feelings and memories.