Lapin sydän. Etelän vieraat pohjoisen sielua etsimässä
[Heart of Lapland. Visitors from the south in search of the Northern soul]
Helsinki: Nemo Publishing Company, 2009. 216 p., ill.
€ 33, hardback
Lapland and its myths have always inspired artists and tourists. In this book two Lapland enthusiasts ponder the things that make Finns from the south return to the north over and over again. Former publisher Hannu Tarmio lost his heart to Lapland 60 years ago; Lasse Rantanen is a graphic designer who is building his own cabin in Savukoski, eastern Lapland. The book is illustrated with his ink-and-abrasive drawings. Tarmio discusses Sámi identity, the history of log floating and gold panning, river pearl mussel fishing, alcohol use, mythology, and tourism and its impact on the environment. The book contains excerpts from literature on Lapland and portraits of its authors (including Yrjö Kokko, Timo Mukka and Nils-Aslak Valkeapää) and presents indigenous Lapps – one of them was Aleksi Hihnavaara, nicknamed Mosku, a legendary but controversial reindeer herder and hunter who fought the Russian Skolt reindeer poachers.
Extracts from the novel Valon reunalla (‘At the edge of light’, Teos, 2005). Introduction by Kristina Carlson
The village despised all those who left. They hated us too, though we were still only planning our final escape.
We used to escape the village. We would hide from its gaze in the forest or the cemetery where the gravestones were so close together that there was no room for the trees to grow. We knew why the freight train brought the village so many dead and so few living. It was the village’s fault. It had a wicked soul. The grown-ups didn’t know it. We knew it, but no one asked us. Death was within us; it was alive. Asking would have been too dangerous….
On the backs of the headstones we carved our own marks with the end of a knife. We blew out the candles laid at the graves of suicide victims. We worshipped them in the dark and no new candles were ever brought to their graves. The parents of those who died so young drove south. They were looking for stations with real waiting rooms and staff that made announcements. They sat on the hard benches waiting, waiting for the trains to come, at the right time; hoping the years wouldn’t wreak havoc after all, hoping they’d roll slowly back along the tracks, to brighten as they approached the village, giving life once again to their children. And everything could start over. More…