Me Memories of Teenage Years

Hämäläinen

Tavast People – ‘Slow or what?’ This is what my collage states in Finnish.

It is not meant to be an insult but just a statement of the common thinking pattern in the Land of the Finns. In every country there are usually different areas of the nation with varied reputations for typical traits for that region and such like.

Well, Häme is like that in Finland. Another example is a place near the town of Vasa that is said to be so stingy that even the migrating birds do fly over it with their own lunch boxes!! This one about the birds was one of my favourite jokes while living in Finland when younger. To me it is just so hilarious.

The plant on the collage is very typical in the Häme province and it is called in Latin: Anemone Hepatica. We used to be able to collect them for the Mother’s Day which is the second Sunday in May in Finland. In Ireland the Mothering Sunday is in March. The white variety is called: Anemone Nemorosa. Impressive?

Yes, the fact of the matter is that in those days, we who were in the school had to collect 80 (yes – eighty!) plants over the summer holidays of the first two years of the Secondary education; presenting them on the third year. We had put the plants dried and pressed properly into these things called “Herbarium.” Each plant was on its own page laid out in style with handwritten labels for all the information on the species.

My approach to the whole affair was rather on the relaxed side on the summer holidays which were three months long then – as I collected only a handful of them in the three years given. The panic due to this laxed stand on the matter caused me quite a flutter by the time that we had to present our Herbariums to the Biology teacher for the final examination. I asked anybody and everybody if they had any extras to spare. I slaved away in rearranging the motley selection of these donated plants, wrote new fresh labels for each one and checked that the final look was pleasing to the eye for an impact and effect. Marketing is the key, I say.

I had learned and was able to rattle all the information on each plant in the order I had placed them on my Herbarium both in Latin and in Finnish. To this day when I see these plants, I am still thinking of their names in Latin, just like this Anemone Hepatica – Sinivuokko, in Finnish, and also the white one, Anemone Nemorosa, or as it is called in Finnish, Valkovuokko.

Then we had an exam on the plants: their names, species, family names et cetera, both in Latin and in Finnish. We also had to tell where they grew and in what kind of soil. We had to learn all these details by heart because at the exam the teacher covered his hand over a plant and asked us to tell all the information on the label.I cannot remember now how many one had to know in ALL the details in order to pass. I suppose that it must have been a good few as the number of the plants was so large.

The most astonishing thing in this Herbarium-affair was that the teacher was most impressed by my handiwork saying: “You have really put an awful lot of work and bother into this collection and made such an outstanding Herbarium!” And he gave me an Excellent*-grade for it. I was left gobsmacked in stunned silence. The poor man did not know that the truth was right the opposite – and I wasn’t going to inform him otherwise either!

And, you may wonder – what the sandhills, what an earth, has this Botany to do with teenage as the title is named for?! I will tell you, it was symptomatic to moi as to how the rest of the teenage school years went. The only teachers that really took an interest in me, were the language teachers who I absolutely loved and who inspired me to no end! They challenged me to the max to learn and use the languages with ease and pleasure.

I have always, always LOVED to learn and to find about things in detail. I needed to be challenged to reach for the heights and not just about. I still love to study and research about all kinds of everything and I challenge myself to reach the heights, and I enjoy mightily in doing just that!!

Tis for now until the next time – Riihele xx.

My kind friends who assisted me by donating the plants were left standing in amazement by the fact that me ‘luck’ did not seem to fail me, yet again!! 

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