Stumped? I’m Finnish!


The waterfront path at my camp is the first thing I cleared after buying the land. It’s lined with stumps, every 20 feet or so — with foreign words on them.

You may be stumped by this! Let me explain.

Some people are content to look at a pretty scene. I want to feel it. Absorb the story (history) of the place. Let it teach me something new about myself.

The history of this place is tied to my family and my genealogy. This plot was once owned by my Aunt Martha, which I didn’t even know when I bought it. She’s the last survivor of 21 children, still vibrant at age 104 and fluent in Finnish. I’m 100% Finnish myself, says Ancestry.com. Finnish was spoken in my childhood home but I never really learned it. Like many 1st-generation Americans, my parents wanted their kids to speak only English.

I want to keep the language alive for a few reasons: 1. It keeps my own history alive. 2. It honors my ancestors. 3. Learning another language opens one’s mind.

I learned French in school, and Italian while living in Sicily, but never learned the language of my own history. The “Finn stumps” help me to do that. Plus, they come from trees on my own land which I helped to cut down with my own hands. I used a dremel to carve the words. This reminds me that I’m capable of unusual things and that change is constant.

The words or phrases I chose are meant to put me into a reflective state. I’m an active person with a busy mind and I need help with that sometimes! So I sit on it, literally, until I “feel” it.

My favorite? Ole taalla nyt. Be here now. Easier said than done! (Thus, the reminder.)

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