We had no idea what to expect as we drove down the pleasant country road leading to the farm that was our first home. Was it still standing? Who lives there now, if anyone? Would they allow us inside the house? Our cousin Marti knew the current owners and kindly arranged a visit for us and indeed joined us for our trip down history lane.
I was four years old when my parents left Heralampi for the wilds of Canada. I never fully understood their motivation to move so far from everything familiar and can only make a guess from the bits and pieces of stories that I barely paid attention to in my self centred youth. I wish I had! It must have taken a huge leap of faith and bravery to leave the comforts of a rural farming life, a huge extended family and community for the unknown Canadian frontier of the fifties. I wish with my heart, that my parents were alive today to share those stories again. We walked somewhat silently throughout the yard at first, lost in our own thoughts I suppose. We learned from Sari, the owner’s daughter, that the playhouse father built for his daughters almost six decades ago, was long gone, replaced by a similar new one for Sari’s children. The Korhonen family have owned the property for decades I believe and use the farm as a summer residence. Mrs. Pirkko Korhonen, the current owner, and Sari, graciously invited us into the house for lemonade, cakes and lively conversation as it turned out. We were thrilled! While inside, we helped fill some gaps in their history book of our old home. This book will apparently always stay in the house as a historical record of sorts. We provided some basic information about our family, letting her know that yes, our father, Veikko had indeed built the home, with help on the foundation from his brothers Kyosti and Urpo. They also helped father frame the red barn. A professional log builder was hired to put up the log frame portion of the house and my father finished the rest on his own. Looking through, I
see his carpentry stamp everywhere. Sari had a builder recently evaluate the structure of the old red sauna, completely built by father. The builder assured Sari that the structure was so sturdy and sound that it should not be torn down as they had planned, but renovated! Later in the week, we located a large record book at our Aunt Sisko’s place, listing all the properties in that particular area of Finland and found Heralampi mentioned, noting our father as the first owner. When one has grown up in Canada, with only immediate family as a historical reference and foundation, walking through my roots has affected me deeply! To really know that ‘Heralampi’ was not just a fairytale heard long ago, but was something so real, so organic, so rich in our family’s historical reality! The emotional reactions welled up somewhere inside me and that night, laying in my corner of Mikko’s kesamokki, on a beautiful antique daybed in the kitchen, the midnight sun lighting up the surrounding woods, reviewing my day, the emotions released and I cried myself to sleep … I believe they were happy nourishing tears.