Carpe Diem Haibun – Bjorn’s Lingering Cold

Sometimes it feels like that’s all there is left. Two old warrior’s we felt ourselves to be, at the kitchen table this morning, my painter and I. Both about the same age. In his youth he’d been a UN blue beret – attached to the UN through the Finnish army. In my youth, with my beret green, I’d been in exactly the same area, with the French military, Lebanon, Syria, Israel. We’d perhaps even been only yards apart at times.

And both of us knew that rare thing. We both knew and felt the lies so often told about the Middle East by our western governments and press, this ex-UN soldier, attached with his Finnish regiment, and I. He’d witnessed a Norwegian UN soldier, a woman, beaten up by Israelis when she had a flat tyre and was trying to flag a car down for help, though it was true she was in uniform and Israelis revile the UN – but her thumb up gesture was also a dire insult in Israel. I’d heard about it. We both saw or heard about many incidents.

We drunk our coffee, and we knew the lies.

“But still the dates grew in the trees, all year round,” he said, “and the olives too, until those crazy extremist  Jewish  settlers burnt all the olive groves.”

“That was, and still is terrible,” I said, “and never talked about.”

The cold crept in trough the open kitchen window. I shivered.

“When I was a child, all our winters were cold, full of snow,” he said, looking out the window with me, at the trees just starting to bud. “This year winter did not come properly but still the cold lingers.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Maybe that is how it is now,” he said, “never really starting, or ever finished.”

lingering cold
flowering spring won’t be today
I miss absent palm trees

 

 

 

dVerse – Where Is She Now?

Where is she now?
The girl whose picture I found
Posing just after the last snows
Fresh, in her Yakutian meadow

What were her dreams, back then?
Among the flowers that only bloom in Spring
When she posed so long ago
The dark nights so short, the days so slow

Did she spend each spring in her field?
And did her memories leave with the end of summer?
I hope she slipped out of her heels
To walk barefoot in the grass, among scented heather

Did she pluck one wild flower to take home and press?
The girl from Yakutia whose photo I found
In the antique chest I bought last night
From the silver-haired woman, whose eyes shone so bright

 

My First Nude Sauna

“First we get naked but not for sex, and we drink beer, but not to get drunk.”

Silence.

Here I was, giving safety training to Gulf Air pilot and cabin crew trainers.

I had them each give a presentation in the first couple of days to let them show how they got a message across to a group of people. They chose their topics. The air stewardess from Finland was next. Her presentation on that great Finnish institution, the sauna, was met by rapt attention.

b_sauna

Fly Finnair

When I met her again in Oulu, in Finland last year, it seemed natural to finally have that sauna……so through thorough lack of popular demand, here are more details from my first nude sauna.

I say first nude because my first sauna was not nude and in fact was, according to the red-bearded companion who specialised in this particular form of torture; an Irish sauna. The key difference lay within the bottle of Irish whiskey, which was used to pour onto the hot coals. Instant drunkedness – hot whiskey fumes breathed in, followed by relatively quick sobering up as the alcohol was sweated out.

Only once was enough. Not once a week, as my Irish friend did. Just once.

However, for reasons of  general education, I must inform all that the nude sauna done Lappland style has a fair quota of embarrassing stages, as itemised below.

1. As illustrated in our picture. Say no more.

Obviously not a version of the Highland Games..no kilts, and no cabers to toss..

2. Back in the sauna again, after a freezing dip in the snow, and at -18C, it is freezing. But unfortunately I cannot confirm the nude sauna is a good place to go to feel at ease, when sitting opposite a svelte Finnish air stewardess, after prancing around in the snow at goodness knows what freezing temperature. It just isn’t. Can’t quite place why, but when sitting opposite a person of the opposite gender of such appeal, one does want to look at their best, not frozen second best. Or third, either, for that matter.

3. And may I add that men running out of a sauna naked, diving into snow has limited sex appeal. I can just feel it. There is something the gals don’t find attractive about shrieking men…

4. Sitting naked with a beautiful nude air stewardess does have certain benefits for your health. Being flanked by two large local lads, elbows and shoulders touching, also quite naked, doesn’t.

5. Being red, gasping, sweaty and hot when the locals suffer calmly shows a certain lack of style. Getting up to get fresh air for the aforementioned reasons, tripping a bit and sliding a touch against the aforementioned elbow-touching gentleman, so that my private parts grace his knee cap somewhat caps the embarrassment scales.

6. Having a gorgeous nude Finnish air stewardess giggle at you in the sauna for the aforementioned somewhat doubles the embarrassment level.

So if you are to embark on such an odyssey as the nude sauna, choose your companions carefully.

She was nice though.