Marja-Leena Rathje
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November's end


As usual here on the 'wetcoast', November has been very rainy and often very windy, with above average precipitation but maybe not quite record-breaking except for early snow on the mountains. Some days the darkness has felt a bit heavy but one just has to keep busy, as I have with printmaking and holiday cards. Later, after all the Christmas preparations and the big days are over, I'll have to start documenting and posting some of the work here to show you all.

Yesterday we had our first taste of the coming holiday season. Erika, husband and I went out to the annual Christmas craft fair put on by the Finns at the Scandinavian Centre. We went early to join the line-up to buy some home-made karjalanpiirakkas and braided loaves of pulla (both almost as good as my mother's!). I resisted buying any more Christmas decorations after so many years of collecting but found a few good books for the granddaughters, plus some Danish marzipan that I always use when I bake the stollen. One of the books was written by an old friend and former neighbour who had a table there - it was a very pleasant surprise to see him there!


As we often do when we are in the area, we stopped afterwards at the Burnaby Art Gallery to see Robert Young's exhibition** on it's last day (naughty me). I've seen much of his work before but it was still great to see it all together in this lovely old building. I've written about Young here before and here's a review of the exhibition.

As it was not raining for a change we went for a stroll around the gallery's lovely gardens... yes, lovely even in November. I love the shapes of the bare old trees, some covered in moss, the pond with all it's subtle colours and reflections and the soft pale mist over the lake beyond. I'm glad I remembered to take the camera, though I forgot to use it at the craft fair.

Since we were more than halfway there, we then went to that famous Swedish home furnishings store where Erika and I picked up some frames for some of our artworks. So you can say we had our Scandinavian fix mixed with some art and gardens, followed by delicious goodies with our afternoon coffee back at home.


Today the sun came out for a while after the morning showers. The forecast calls for more of that pale yellow ball in the sky this week along with colder temperatures. I can see an almost full moon out there too! I hope we'll have a dry day next weekend to put up our outside LED Christmas lights. Some of the neighbours got theirs out yesterday and today so it's slowly becoming festive and bright outdoors to chase away some of those Scandinavian Christmas trolls hiding in the dark!

** Edited March 2nd, 2013: Link has expired and has been removed.

Marja-Leena | 30/11/2009 | 8 comments
themes: Art Exhibitions, Being an Artist, Culture


Happy to hear that it stopped raining for a while -- and I hope that the sun will stick around for you a little longer, to make December brighter than any LED lights can. :)

We haven't seen much winter yet in these parts, though today we had a frost for the first time, and I thought as I now think looking at your photographs how reassuring it is to see that the weather is behaving as it should be.

I always get a little lurch of excitement at the beginning of December, and even listen to an Advent Sunday service if I get the chance.

I like the little figure looming out of the puddle...

Maria, thanks! It's looking good for the next week or so, here's hoping...

Joe, no frost until now? We've had a few this past month when we had some of those rare clear nights, but not damaging. It's getting colder so we may get some harder frosts, and possibly even snow...

Lucy, yes, it is one of my favourite times of the year in spite of all the extra work. Good eye, you spotted a reflection of my husband in that pond!

Ahh, the photographs are beautiful and I laughed at the wording of wet coast. I spent 6 years in Vancouver (and surroundings) and now 16 years here in Portland and I've never heard it before.

Your stories of Finnish Christmas traditions remind me very much of those I learned from a dear Swedish friend. Every December her Mother sent us a wonderful box of Scandinavian treats.

Susan, so 'wet coast' isn't used in Portland? It's very common here, as are expressions about rusting, webbed feet, growing moss between the toes... :) Yes, there are many similarities in the Nordic Christmas traditions and I love them!

It really does look very wet in all those photos! The dampness does saturate colors well, at least on the ground, while the mist above takes it away from the skies. Enjoy your holiday season!

Leslee, thanks, though for us it starts later since we don't have your late Thanksgiving. I've got to get ready for it first!