By Emily Dickinson
These are the days that Reindeer love
And pranks the northern star —
This is the Sun’s objective
And Finland of the year.
Devil’s Darning Needle, Snake Doctor, Devil’s Horse, Horse Stinger, Mosquito Hawk, Adderbolt, Ear Cutter, Water Witch, Hobgoblin Fly — dragonflies have had many names owing to the folklore and superstitions surrounding these colorful insects.
The ‘snake doctor’ name for dragonflies comes from Pennsylvania and the belief that they acted as guards of the serpents found there, warning them of any danger. Some believed that the dragonflies could even revive a dead snake, bringing it back to life. Killing the servants of the snake was inadvisable lest the serpent retaliate.
On the Isle of Wight, residents believed the dragonflies possessed a painful sting and legend had it that the dragonflies could tell if a child was good or bad. When good children went fishing, dragonflies would hover over the water’s edge where the fish were, but when bad children went near…
By John Clare
Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come,
For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom,
And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest,
And love is burning diamonds in my true lover’s breast;
She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair,
And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair;
I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest,
And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast.
The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May,
The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day,
And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest
In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover’s breast;
I’ll lean upon her breast and I’ll whisper in her ear
That I cannot get a wink o’sleep for thinking…
Located on the divide between the Finnish Lakeland and the Lapland lies Syöte National Park. The name ‘Syöte’ comes from the ancient Sami language, meaning ‘blessed’, and the indigenous Sami people have used the land for thousands of years. Traces of ancient Sami use can still be found in the park, but there are many other traces of land use from more recent times.
In the 1500’s, people began settling in the area, bringing their slash-and-burn tradition with them. They began clearing the land of trees to use as agriculture, often times accidentally setting forests…
A graveyard may not be the most common of places to visit when traveling in a foreign city, but a couple of years ago I found myself walking through one in Helsinki because it was next to the apartment we were staying in. Almost immediately, the thing I noticed about many of the tombstones, were the presence of birds. Many had metal birds in flight on the front, small metal birds sitting on top. As I walked through the tombstones, live birds flitted around the edge of the graveyard in the surrounding wild forested area. Occasionally one would fly in and perch on a tombstone as though it were another of the adornments decorating the memorials.
Although Finns are strongly connected to nature, birds hold an even more symbolic meaning, which I didn’t know at the time. In Finnish folklore there is something known…
By Emily Dickinson
Farther in summer than the birds,
Pathetic from the grass,
A minor nation celebrates
Its unobtrusive mass.
No ordinance is seen,
So gradual the grace,
A pensive custom it becomes,
Antiquest felt at noon
When August, burning low,
Calls forth this spectral canticle,
Repose to typify.
Remit as yet no grace,
No furrow on the glow,
Yet a druidic difference
Enhances nature now.
I admit, Finland may not be the most popular country to visit for dragonflies. Most people head to warmer locations like Costa Rica which has 270 species or Australia which has 320 species. Finland meanwhile, has a mere 62 species of dragonflies and damselflies. Although I didn’t expect to see many, if any, dragonflies last time I visited Finland, I was treated to an abundance of dragons and even a swarm over a boulder lined pond. Finding a lot of dragonflies in Finland, especially north in the Lapland, was surprising, but perhaps it should not have been.
Yes Finland is cold, with a long dark winter and short summer. But this country has something special that makes it well worth the short breeding season for dragonflies: many lakes and mires. After forests, mires cover the most amount of Finland, although less…