the nostalgia of homecoming

Nostagia Fnland

I’ve been returning “home” a lot lately. Whereas my home is in England, returning to my birth country, Finland, is always filled with nostalgia. There is the sadness of something familiar, yet it doesn’t quite feel right, and the comfortable sights of childhood that always bring a piece of mind.

I often yearn to go back to homeland, but after a while I am more than ready to leave again: I realize that my childhood memories are somewhat gilded, and that safe, quiet country I left eons ago doesn’t exist any longer. I’ve become a global nomad: I feel good in whatever country I live in (and there’ve been quite a few), I think of fondly the ones I lived in and dream of moving on to somewhere new and exotic. I love the new environment, but after a while I start getting itchy feet again and the old restlessness fills me again.

What I fear the most is that we’ve created children who feel the same way: I often jokingly say that by the age of three out little twins had already lived on three continents and spoke four languages. Sounds great, but kids need some stability too, no?

I am not very patriotic and I love the country I live in, but there are some traditional experiences and things that I just have to have when I return to Finland. And somehow it makes me feel great when I get my (Spanish) husband and children excited about these things too…

Karelian pies

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Today feels like another great homecoming to this very advanced country of technology and automation, which at the same time lives in the very simple way and the three things that made me relax more than my yoga and meditation together were:

1. Enjoying warm melt-in-the-mouth mini Karelian pies

Topped with a mix of crushed boiled egg and butter and a slice of cheese and cucumber. These rye-crusted and rice filled little pasties just are the best thing in the whole wide world and should be awarded a couple of Michelin stars. every year I swear I’ll make some, but the process is very laborious and it’s been over 20 years since my last baking event (yes, in this very anti-social country making pies is a group activity normally)…

2. The smell of burning wood outside

Generally it’s a sign that someone is warming up a sauna, especially if it’s Saturday night. Modern saunas are electrical and have mobile-phone controlled timers and what-nots, but the “real” wooden sauna has more humidity, feels better and does wonders for your skin…and they smell good too.

3. The sauna experience in the above-mentioned old-fashioned concoction

Wooden sauna is not just reserved for those remote lake-side summer cottage. My parents have one too. And there is no electricity, nor running water. If you are now thinking ‘what?’ I cannot blame you. I’ve just come back from sauna and I feel like reborn again. I enjoyed the dark sauna in flickering candlelight, throwing eucalyptus-scented water on sizzling rocks and enjoying the cloud of steam and heat making it’s way around the room.

The near-freezing water is carried in from the well and mixed with hot-steaming water for bathing. Oh this clean local water that makes my frizzy hair and sleek and shiny again. I lay down in the hot sauna, listening (somewhat melancholic) Finnish tunes from the battery-operating sauna radio. This nirvana continues long after the sauna. It feels great sitting outside afterwards, the single-digit April air feels good on steaming skin and somehow the typical après-sauna drink, sweet pear cider, no longer feels too sweet after enjoying years of dry English ciders.

Lake fishing

This simple trip makes my perfect homecoming, that keeps repeating year after year, time after time, hopefully generation after generation. I admit that there are few other, seasonal traditions and foods and get into my homecoming bucket list, but those stories are best left for another time…

“When you return back home, what makes the homecoming perfect for you? The people, the food, the environment, old traditions – or all those things together?”

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