In the hope that the details of life along this part of
the border region might entertain you or part of your readership,
I am sending along this account of my travels. I recorded
these observations while on an extensive inspection trip
in this province last autumn.
by crown tax collector Vickmann, I left Paltamo on the evening
of 9 September, travelling across the northeast part of
Lake Oulujärvi, to the inn in Kiehimänsuu, where we spent
the night. On the following morning we continued our journey,
going up river through rapids to Ristijärvi and, on the
following days, to the parishes of Hyrynsalmi and Kianta.
We travelled the whole way by boat, but there are many large
and small rapids which make the trip difficult and slow.
Normally at this time of year one cannot cover more than
30 or 40 km a day, and even to do that one has to leave
early in the morning and travel until well into the evening...Every
year, the tar boats have a number of accidents when shooting
the rapids here, but it is no wonder when one realizes that
most of the rapids have only one narrow channel a boat can
pass through. And just as we were going upriver and were
below Iikoski by the church at Ristijärvi, we met a tar
boat that had hit a rock coming down the rapids just a little
while before. We had already seen barrels of tar floating
by quite a way downriver; fortunately, the barrels are so
light they don't sink.
travelling with Vickmann till the 14 September, I left him
by the church in Kianta, which is about 120 km north of
Kajaani. I then left for this village with the priests,
who were going to test the catechism in Vuokki the next
day. This is almost 30 km from the church in Kianta, and
we made the trip by boat. We spent Sunday the 14th here.
The priests tested the people on their knowledge of Christian
doctrines, while I related a few Finnish proverbs to some
peasants in one of the other rooms and wrote down poems
that some of them knew. As you know, people from nearby
villages gather wherever these catechism tests are given,
even people who have no business with the priests. It is
these people who are my "congregation".
It is hard to say how big a complete collection of Finnish
proverbs would be. But I think it would be quite large,
judging from the fact that wherever people get together
and I read aloud the proverbs I have collected, I hear plenty
more to add to my notes. I do not have to read more than
three or four before there is someone in the crowd who remembers
a new proverb and asks if I already have it in my book.
Often I hear so many that I do not have a chance to write
them all down without forgetting a few. It is the same way
with riddles, which also seem to be numberless and which,
like proverbs, are very different in different places. Most
riddles and proverbs have been composed in typical poetic
form; however, many of the latter are straightforward prose,
as are some of the riddles...