During the last several months I have been absorbed in a process of video editing. Following an intensive period of interviews I have been steadily processing the abundant video, sound and photo materials collected. Below is a screen capture of a video edit in process..........
In mid September Scandivanaia festival was held in Brisbane's Newstead. Below is a photo of the Finnish stall.
At times I have been quite amazed at the dots that have presented themselves, during this project, ready to be connected. For example even when I am not looking for Finns I stumble across them. At one place where I stayed for two nights the fellow who gave me my keys asked me where I was visiting from and it turned out that his grandparents had migrated from Finland to Australia in the 1960s. One morning there was a Jehovah's witnesses knocking at my door (at a different place) who upon learning my name started speaking to me in Finnish. Yesterday I visited the library and the woman helping me was named Ilona which is a common Finnish name (although also potentially a Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish or French name). Perhaps these dots are simply indicators of being on the right track............................................................ ......................................................................................................................
Last week, I travelled across the Queensland border. First to New South Wales and then to Australia's Capital Territory finding a little piece of Finland along the way in Canberra, the obvious kind: the Finnish embassy. Nestled amongst the gum trees, cockatoos and roundabouts was the embassy which had in recent years relocated from Sydney to Darwin Street in Canberra. Canberra always feels so strange to visit because it is über designed and so very organised in a seemingly complicated way. It's funny though that the city centre of Canberra was almost designed by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, you can read about it here: www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2012/11/19/3635871.htm
Last week I visited the Sunshine Coast and filmed Tarja's beach walk with her nordic walking sticks. Whilst nordic walking sticks are commonplace in the Nordic countries (and Europe more generally) they are still a fairly rare sight in Australia.
This week I joined a group at the Finnish Hall in Mt Gravatt in Brisbane and learned to make Karelian pies (Karjalan piirakka). I learnt several steps in the process of making these traditional delicacies such as: making the rye pastry, preparing the rice porridge, rolling the pastry (paper thin), cutting out pastry circles, and pinching the pastry sides around the porridge. I have now specialised in the skill of pinching! I was informed that the more small pinches are the better (there should be at least twelve) and if the pinches are too pointy then the pastry will brown/ burn more easily. It felt great to learn to make these pies, which my grandmother used to make habitually.
The group is preparing pies for the upcoming Scandinavian Festival in September in Newstead: www.scandinavianfestival.com.au/
Additional baking sessions are being held on the following Wednesdays at the Finnish Hall: 16th July, 23rd July, 30th July, 6th August (9.30am start). If you want to learn or share your skills you can join the group on these days.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Gideon and enjoying his traditional +95 degrees Finnish sauna on semi hot day on the Gold Coast. Above is an image of the sauna on the left with an iconic Australian hills hoist visible to the right.
Having grown up with similar sauna conditions I am no stranger to the seeming contradiction of enjoying a sauna on an already sweaty hot day - but as my mother says "+40 degrees doesn't seem so hot when you step out of a +80 degrees sauna!"
One of the reasons why I am so interested in meeting people of Finnish ancestry in Queensland is because of the extreme contrasts. Whilst many Finns over history have migrated to similar climates as Finland (for example those that reside in Minnesota, US, or in Ontario in Canada) those that came to Queensland have sought out opposite conditions to those of their homeland.
Subsequently I find that traditional saunas in Qld are somehow extra special.
As I waited for my plane I filmed as other planes arrived and departed Townsville airport. One of these planes was bound for Isa.
Upon leaving Townsville centre I met a very talkative taxi driver who has known a lot of Finns over the years. He told me that there used to be a Finnish female taxi driver in Townsville a few years back. He had also worked in the mines in Isa where he'd come across many Finns. He said they used to call Finns Huckleberry's (in connection to Huckleberry Finn).
During my days in Townsville I, along with Anne Rosenius, became the interviewees for Ari Korhonen's Finnish language radio program at TripleT, the local community radio station. Along with sharing a little bit about our research with the listeners we read some of the weekly news in Finnish. I read a short segment about Monaco's Prince Albert II visiting Rovaniemi in North Finland. Whilst my Finnish reading and writing is somewhat understandable, I did indeed stumble a bit over those long words! (I only learnt to read and write in Finnish a couple of years ago even though I have always spoken Finnish). I'm hoping some Australian born Finns with similar reading styles were listening and could relate to my speech stutters!