Kim flew home a few days ago, which makes Finland slightly less fun. But don't worry, I'm not lonely- when she left, a family of 47 mosquitoes moved in. Finnish mosquitoes must live for maybe 17 hours, but they wreak enough pain and misery in their short, little lives to make up for it. I am currently covered in welts that are easily visible from across the street. Right now, I imagine that every single woman in my family, some of whom are medical professionals, are thinking to themselves the following as they read this:
And as I am typing what they are thinking to themselves, I am thinking to myself:
At any rate, outside of buying bug spray, I'm having some trouble figuring out what I should be doing this weekend. Frankly, I feel like we've done such a thorough job at covering the sites of Helsinki that there isn't anything new I want to hit. Perhaps it's time for me to hit Helsinki Jason-style (meaning from the couch. With no lights on. And a 30 foot straw or tube to the refrigerator).
I went back to Hakaniemi Market on Saturday. Despite the narrow escape from poisonous mushrooms, it's probably one of my favorite places in Helsinki. Plus, Suomi strawberries are now in season, and since they have roughly the same life-span as Finnish mosquitoes, I needed to grab a bunch. Well worth it. I also appreciate the fact that their potatoes still have dirt on them. Too often in the States, even at farmer's markets, we feel the need to remove the food entirely from the farming context. I guess we are trained as consumers to avoid uncleanliness, or maybe the potato washing is viewed as an extra step. Not for me. I like knowing that the potatoes came from the ground and rather than from a potato factory in Flint or a potato lab in San Diego.
Having been to this market a few times now, I can tell you that there are two types of market stall workers. There are the farmers themselves (usually older, always suspicious) and there are a bunch of kids (anywhere between 14 and 24- if you are 25 and you are selling stuff at a farmer's market, you are a farmer. Q.E.D.). If you ever visit here, definitely go for the second group. In fact, I would be surprised if you are even able to get help from the farmers, anyway. As soon as they hear you speaking English, they will call over a kid to help you. This happened to me at 3 separate stalls. All Finnish farmers use the same hand gesture to call for a kid- take two fingers to make a peace sign, and then curl them inwards as if you were then going to use the peace sign to claw out someone's throat. Now make the motion in the air, as if you were clawing out said throat. That's how a farmer calls over a kid to help an American buy vegetables. But it's ok, these kids are awesome. Their English is great, they are very helpful during the discovery phase of the shopping (notwithstanding the aforementioned failure to mention that the mushrooms I was buying could kill me and my wife- everyone gets a mulligan), and they love joking around. Maybe a clueless American breaks up the monotony for them. No complaints here. I walked away with some strawberries, potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms (don't worry- I recognized them) and the requisite dill and chives for all Finnish cooking.
I think today I may try to buy a book or three for the plane ride (in less than one week!). Other options are the movies, a cafe, or maybe a return trip to the Ateneum.