Pining for Finland

Brown Bear painting by Brenda Davis Harsham

Brown bear, brown bear,
what do you see?
Reindeer herds or
Santa in Rovaniemi?

May to August,
the midnight sun lights Lapland.
Under that luminous sky,
the Sámi teach that all
beings and objects have souls.
Paintings, pottery,
dolls and blankets have stories.
A Sámi kota is a circular tent,
a place for visions and healing.

Brown bear, brown bear,
what do you see?
A Lake Saimaa seal,
cut off from the sea?

Long winer nights are
lit by aurora borealis,
heaven’s fireworks,
the celestial dragon.
If we listen,
what will we hear?

Notes: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a classic children’s book written by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle. I pay homage here to a book my kids love, and I reread so many times it feels part of my DNA.

I’ve seen a rise in visitors from Finland, and I wanted to learn more about it. Finland’s cities of light are dwarfed by its vast wilderness near the arctic circle. In between Sweden and Russia, Finland flies its cross-of-blue flag over lakes, mountains, forests, rocky inlets, migrating birds and northern lights. It’s a place of magic, with trees frozen like trolls, glass igloos and brown bear roaming free.

The painting is a watercolor of mine from twenty years ago, tweaked by iPhoto.

28 thoughts on “Pining for Finland

  1. You have your own brown bear art to go with the poem – very good indeed! I’ve never seen a bear in real life, and I’m not sure I’d want to up close. I have heard the brown…or is black bears are quite shy of people, but I don’t think I’d take my chances if I saw one! I’ve not heard of the little story book either. Bears are a bit of mysterious creature to the British! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I avoid bear, and they avoid me. Although I have seen them in the wild in Yosemite (big park in California). And in New Hampshire, too, now that I think back. Moose are apparently more of a threat. I can’t say this bear posed for me. I painted it from a photograph, years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Moose….moooose, that was the name I was struggling to remember!!!! I was thinking ‘like lumpy looking dear’ but couldn’t remember what they were called. Yes, someone else told me they have a problem with them in their area too. Someone shouts “there’s a moose!” everyone gets a bit scared. I used to be terrified of cows on country walks when I was little, I believed they would follow us home and get behind the sofa in the living room. My older brother pointed out they would have had to let themselves in with a key first – but I wasn’t interested in how they would do that – I just knew they could! The thought of meeting a moose at that age – aaahh, no, that would have been too monstrous for me! 😀

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