[From Beth] On Tuesday, we toured around Oulu on foot and stopped at a Finnish buffet for lunch. While we’re in the company of both Colin and Saara, the next meal is never far from our thoughts. Fortunately, the Finns enjoy no fewer than five meals a day, lunch is typically the biggest. On this day we stopped at a Finnish buffet for salmon chowder, reindeer meatballs and mashed potatoes, a typical mid-day meal for Lapplanders (although Oulu is central Finland).
Here we took our leave of Juhani’s sister-in-law Serpa, who is darling. We traveled south from Oulu to Pulkilla to visit Juhani’s sister Airi and her husband Aaro at their summer cabin about 10 km outside of town. Aaro keeps bees on the property and showed us his honey making operation. Many Finnish families have cabins in the country. Airi and Aaro’s is a one room building with a loft. They have a wood-fire sauna off one side of the building and a bunkhouse where Saara and her cousin have spent many summers.
Airi served an afternoon coffee (usually thought of as dinner #1) of sweetbreads, blueberries and cream. Berries of some kind are a part of most meals here. While walking through the park in Oulu, we stopped to pick raspberries. At Aaro’s cabin, we were shown their strawberry beds. Some sort of fresh berry or berry compote is available at every meal.
Airi doted on the boys and reminded me of one of Mike’s aunts. She hovered over them and fed them cookies and refilled their milk glasses multiple times. Before we left the cabin she found a bag of gummy candy she gave them. They felt like kings.
While at the cabin, the boys were invited to go for a swim, but the sky opened up with a summer thunderstorm. Although I thought the weather was too cold for a swim in the first place, this change in the weather helped convince Colin to change his plans. We still had another four-hour drive into Vaasa, and it was past 5 pm, so it was good that we were able to get going at that point.
Today we slept in, had a late breakfast and later a lunch of reindeer, mashed potatoes, and lingonberries. We visited the Vaasa cultural museum with some really cool displays of the ice age, and an exhibit on the Finnish design company Merimekko. Colin’s one-floor-limit-per-museum-without-a-snack rule is still in place, so we stopped at one point for chocolate. We’re home for dinner of porridge, lingonberries and yogurt, before visiting a park that is the site of the largest impact crater in Finland. If Colin tries to enforce his snack rule one more time today, I may throw him in.