… beginning of darkness.
As night fell over Finland, I went to Suomenlinna. Again.
Viaporin Kekri, the night of the spirits, was organized there. The revival of an old festival of harvest, this celebration brought forth culture and history, opening hidden places to the public for all kinds of performances that exposed echoes of ancient times.
Like every time I visit the fortress, I discovered new places. While there was still natural light outside, I walked to the prison, walked among former barracks, tried to imagine what life used to be behind those bleached pink walls, and what it was now.
I’ve always wondered what living in Suomenlinna was like; would it enhance my current feelings, or would this close proximity break the spell that links me to the islands?
Barrack B28 now hosts the Nordic Culture Point, an institute dedicated to cultural grants and events in the Nordics. On that day, an exhibition brought visitors back to the early days of the fortress, under Swedish rule, down to modern days, going through the Russian period and the aftermath of the Finnish Civil War. In this building, war prisoners from the Red faction were detained for month, in insalubrious conditions, several dying every single day.
Bending under the weight of history, I left the barracks after nightfall. I walked around, explored, went from one spotlight to the other. I visited the studio where an artist “paints” by hammering nails on a wooden canvas. I witnessed glass blowers performing there craft with mesmerizing precision.
The wind was blowing, it rained a little, but there was light in the sky; clouds hung low, and the lights from the city reflected on them. In the darkness of the fortress, it felt like the sun was rising behind the buildings and hills. The church’s beacon pierced the gloom at regular intervals.
The festival’s pinnacle was the burning of the buck, the Kekri, which would make all our sorrows vanish. Two fire breathers performed their dance, then the buck was fed the sorrows, and finally the bonfire was lit. We watched as the flames engulfed the straw, only to reveal the wooden frame that burnt as well.
The fire was too distant to warm me up, and waiting 40 minutes for the ferry to arrive did not ease the situation, nor did the long bus trip back home. My next apartment has to be closer to Suomenlinna ❤
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