Ahtola, Riina: Nordic Homestead
”The grass glistens in the fresh morning dew, feeling cool under the feet. Gazing over a landscape of fields, a scent of luscious greens wafts in the air. When you squint the eyes, a sparkling, clear blue lake can be glimpsed in the distance, beckoning for a dip after the chores on the farm are finished for the day. The thought play is suddenly interrupted by a pair of cranes that fly overhead. A narrow pathway leads to the hen-house, where tucked in a corner under a layer of straw, fresh eggs wait to be picked for the breakfast table. After a leisurely breakfast, a busy day lays ahead. The sound of the children can already be heard from the garden. Another beautiful day is about to begin in the countryside, where the bustle of city life is just a distant thought. This is where we feel at home.”
Finland is a land of a thousand lakes, abundant fields and luscious forests. Pure nature and the peace it offers are increasingly meaningful for people today.
In the past, agriculture was one of the chief means of earning a livelihood in Finland, and farms were usually passed down from father to son. Eventually, finding a successor became difficult, and farms that require a great deal of tending and maintenance became abandoned. Beautiful old village schools, dairies and village halls have had a similar fate in more recent times.
City life with its crowds, traffic jams and stress has led many people to rethink how to spend their lives. Being close to nature and leading a simpler lifestyle have felt increasingly appealing. Parents are reconsidering where to bring up children and what their future will look like. Rural living has felt like an attractive option in providing precious family time and teaching children to live alongside nature and develop practical skills.
A yearning for the countryside served as the starting point also for this book. Although I live in the city, a part of me constantly longs for our leisure time home in the countryside, where my grandparents once grew crops and raised livestock. Kati is responsible for the aesthetic side of the book through her photography. Together with her family, she decided to leave the city altogether in favour of a rural existence. Both of our hearts are in the countryside.
All of the ten families featured in the book live in rural areas. Many of them can be described as “city-country people” with a desire to live close to nature. They have wanted to see the world with new eyes, leave the hustle behind, seize each day, be more present and experience a deeper sense of peace and quiet. Although self-sufficiency is a value in itself, city-country people do not necessarily make their living from agriculture and any animals they may be caring for are mainly dogs and cats.
Old, abandoned country houses with creaky floorboards, cosy fireplaces, timeworn brick walls and other intri-cate, original details are out there waiting for new owners to faithfully tend to them and ensure their lives continue also tomorrow.