Every year a group of folks travel from the Clair Nelson Center in Finland, MN to the Loon Lake Community Center to take part in the longest continuously-held annual Finnish-American festival in the United States: Laskiainen! Sadly, due to Covid-19 there will be no Laskiainen this year. So instead we made this video of our trip last year.
If you’re honest about life in Finland, every season is a part of the cycle of Firewood. You are always either looking for a source of firewood, processing firewood, or using firewood to keep your home warm. From the outside, this may seem to be a very mundane and burdensome exercise, a toilsome task, an antiquated practice. But in reality, heating one’s home with wood is a beautiful cultural practice steeped in tradition, surrounded by stories, and filled with meaning and technique unique to each individual.
In reference to Firewood, lots of people like to recite the cute little saying – “He who cuts his own wood warms himself twice.” Anyone who has actually cut their own wood knows that the saying is wrong. It would be more accurate to say that cutting your own wood warms you at least five or six times, because you are going to break a sweat cutting it, splitting it, and moving it from place to place a few different times. It’s work. Good honest, meditative work that produces results. The wood splits, the pile grows, the stack becomes a cord, the wood flames up, the coals burn down, repeat.
It is these things, the everyday tasks, that make life in Finland, Minnesota so special. Living this way as our ancestors did brings happiness and fulfillment. And this is apparent in the people of Finland. Just come visit, and you will see. Happiness lives in Finland, around a crackling fire.
As the cool weather of spring turns to warm summer evenings, the landscape transforms. The trees that cover the hills turn a deep green color, the migratory songbirds fill the forests with their songs, and the breeze dances merrily along. The fields and forests fill in with an almost jungle-like thickness of foliage. The transformation is so quick and so intense, it’s amazing to watch.
The water that drains down from the muskegs and lakes in the north, mix with the cool, clean, water flowing down in streams from the tops of the Sawtooth Mountains. These waters come together, in one wonderful place: the confluence of the east and west branches of the Baptism River, right in the heart of Finland, MN.
As we follow the water, it flows down the Baptism River Valley, creating swimming holes, fishing holes, waterfalls and rapids, and finally flowing into Gitchi Gami (Lake Superior). This great inland sea has always been important to the peoples who have called this part of the earth home. It provides food, a gentler climate, easier travel, and a quiet reminder that the beautiful force of nature is far more powerful than any of us could ever dream of being.
With the summer temps climbing, the waters in the rivers and lakes become warm, ushering in the swimming season. Finland is filled with places to go swimming; from remote forest lakes, beautiful Lake Superior beaches and everything in between. If you like swimming, you should visit Finland.
But swimming is not the end of the summer fun in Finland! We have great trails for hiking, biking, ATVs and more. Being located in some of the highest ridges towering over Lake Superior provides for some outstanding views, and along the way, you will find ancient old-growth forests, and magical spots forgotten by time.
Summer also brings an opportunity to gather wonderful wild foods: fishing, berry picking, gathering wild mushrooms and more. If you want to learn more about gathering wild food in the Finland area, check out this resource: The Gathering Cycle of the Year in NE MN.
Summer in the Finland area is magical. But it’s short. So make sure you don’t miss your chance to get out and experience this magical place in its summer glory. Before we know it the evenings will become cool, the leaves will turn brilliant colors, and a whole new season of wonderful adventures will begin.