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On the “Kalle Tihveräinen”


di   Aldo Ciummo

The Eastern Central Finland is a lung water where the entire history of local population flows from centuries. Thousands of lakes pour into one other streams, animals, stories and boats, always essential in a region where trades are done necessarily through navigation. Here survive, alongside the spread of broadband internet (the largest in Europe) wonderful and suggestive Juhannus traditions (the longest day of the year), when communities meet on islands and islets to the light of huge fires. Here, alongside more modern vessels, cruise small steamships that hundreds years ago joined Saint Petesburg to Savonlinna through water channels.

We meet the “Kalle Tihveräinen”, almost half a century ago escaped from a demolition, thanks to a handful of fans who have begun to travel together a few other boats like this: in the decades have dragged behind dozens of other steamships, involved in a race created to revive the traditions of lakes and that now fills the Saimaa lake of a jamboree, few days after the Summer Solstice. Again like decades ago, logs are hauled in the lake and from plers they end into the bollers to whistling vessels.

Knowing this steamship (a höyrylaiva, as is called in Finnish) also we meet many other faces, a tiny island that houses a school where an association of yachtmen teachs children how people lived on the lake, the memory of a sailor maintained by the Lake “his half” of the boat, to be more precise by a foundation that bears his name and works together with the current captain of the “Kalle Tihveräinen,” his friend who bought it and pieced together with him. A lake also made up of thousands of islands and different boats, summer homes in the woods. A country dispersed and joined by channels then meet in the middle of the music and toast in the day like Juhannus and like the race boat of which we tell the history and names.