Thursday, July 19
Dining table, 16:50
I got up at 10:00, after initially waking, ready for work, at 7:30. The Helsinki atmosphere must have seeped into my sleep.
I started the day by digging up a large plant that has got overshadowed by a bush and needs repositioning. I then spent an hour or so picking one of the two redcurrant bushes, and filling three boxes for the freezer. While I did this I also kept out of Irma’s way so that she could concentrate on preparing this afternoon’s party.
At 13:00 Naa arrived with some delicious-looking desserts that she had made and forty five minutes later Irma’s mother arrived for her ninetieth birthday party. Or one of them. She has somehow contrived to have almost a whole week of parties, lunches and dinners with various family members and friends. I hope I get to do something similar when I turn ninety.
We spend the afternoon eating a variety of Leena’s favourite foods: mostly fish, and mostly fresh from Pellinki. We start with gravad lax and cold smoked salmon that Vikke caught or prepared yesterday. We also have some rare smoked eel that Vikke had caught. (Eel apparently gets caught by accident or surprise. Nobody can supply it to order.)
The main course consists of fresh new potatoes from Camilla and ahven fillets from Vikke and Mari. Both taste delicious. (My Finnish dictionary offers perch as the translation for ahven, but I do not recognise the fish as the kind of perch I might see in England. Many translations for the names of fish seem more like analogies than translations to me.)
We will eat more of these than humanly possible and still have some left for tomorrow. Leena will go for a nap after this. After an hour or so Irma will bring out Naa’s dessert – a kind of kisseli based layered trifle in individual dishes – and we will start again. We will finish with strawberry layer cake and then all sit in a daze on the sofa and in armchairs.
We will chat about the book I read and we will agree on its faults.
The three generations of Sippola women will leave at about 18:30, as Irma drives everyone home. The other two leave with boxes full of fish, potatoes, cake and presents.