Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Merrie melodies and looney tunes

Il Cinema Ritrovato (25 June - 2 July) ended last weekend in Bologna. I'm about to enter remarks about the magnificent festival in this blog retroactively. So far I have only managed to copy the festival's programme notes of the 49 films or short film programmes that I saw.

After a day of taking care of urgent business at the office it's time for holiday. In the morning we have a coffee break at Hamina market square where early potatoes, strawberries and other products of the season are at their best, having grown in the 24-hour sunlight. By lunchtime we reach Imatra. The delicious local fish muikku (vendace) is excellent at the best restaurant in town, Buttenhoff. Downstairs at Café Julia the "damn good coffee" and the apple pie would please Dale Cooper.

The devastating traces of last summer's enormous thunderstorm are still evident by Road Six. Kilometer after kilometer vast areas of forest are destroyed.

The farmers are working hard from morning till night. Luckily for our neighbour farmer there is a hawk patrolling in the sky and scaring off fieldfare (räkättirastas) from his strawberry fields. Also a family of long-eared owls (sarvipöllö) has settled down in the next forest as this is a good mole year. The owls also keep the fieldfare away. A signature bird here (even the "official bird" of the province of Southern Savo)  is the golden oriole, kuhankeittäjä, a bright yellow bird with a somewhat tropical look. Often almost impossible to see as it lives in the highest tree tops and flies very fast. But an avid singer with a variety of jovial tunes.

As always, it's an amusing contrast that we city-dwellers start vacationing when country folks work hardest. And we do our holiday fishing in July when the catch is at its worst. Be that as it may, a swim in the clear water of the Puruvesi works miracles.

P.S. 6 July 2011: Next morning in birdland the first sight is a Whooper Swan, in Finnish laulujoutsen, our national bird, honoured even on the Finnish Euro coin. In the 1950s the Whooper Swan was on the verge of extinction in our land because of hunting, but the population has grown after it was declared endangered in the 1930s. For the first time we observe this species of swan having breakfast just a few meters from us. It used to be a very shy bird. The more common species Mute Swan (kyhmyjoutsen) is a "city swan", blasé in the presence of crowds.

Our little bay is both a swan lake and a loon lake. A loon (kuikka) is also having breakfast, keeping a marked distance both from us and the swan. It is considered the oldest bird species in the Northern hemisphere. Both the loon and the swan have something primordial and atavistic in them in appearance and in song.

P.S. 8 July 2011: Caught a pike, felled a pine.

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