It is with great pleasure I bring you this spotlight. Helsinki Sunrise is one of Pelican Book Group's "Passport to Romance" series where each story is set at exotic places around the globe! So without much further ado, let's get right into it!
STOP AND SMELL (OR TASTE) THE FINNISH FLOWERS
By Marion Ueckermann
Helsinki Sunrise, a Passport to Romance, blog tour follows on from yesterday’s double feature in Australia where we took a look at Finnish things: a travel blog on Finland with Narelle Atkins, and a Finnish wedding with Inspirational Romance hosted by Rita Galieh.
It seemed fitting, therefore, to take time today to stop and smell the Finnish flowers. We can taste some of them, too.
In a country that consists mainly of forests and water, you might be tempted to ask, “What Finnish flowers?”
Flowers like these beautiful pink and purple wild, perennial Lupines, or Lupiini in Finnish, that grow all over Finland along the roadsides in summer. What a delightful sight they were for me when we visited the country two years ago.
But bright, colored flowers don’t line only the Finnish roads. Like most European countries, the Finns also take pride in their window boxes. We spotted this pretty one in the fascinating town of Savonlinna, in the south-east of Finland.
I loved the forests in Finland so much, particularly the birch tree ones (which was most of them). Two different kinds of birch grow in Finland: the silver birch, which is Finland’s national tree, and the downy birch. What a versatile tree—so many amazing things are made from the silver birch. The pale wood is used for furniture, skis, and kitchen utensils, amongst other things. Wooden footwear and roof shingles are made from slabs of the bark. Birch brushwood is used for besom brooms and racecourse jumps. In the spring, sap is tapped from the tree trunks and used like maple syrup, or drunk in a variety of ways, possibly out of a kuksa, a Finnish camping cup made of arctic birch burl. The tree is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments or conditions.
I experienced one of the fascinating uses for this tree whilst in Finland—the vihta, vasta or simply, the bath or sauna-whisk. An inseparable part of Finnish culture passed down from ancient days, the Finnish vihta is a small bouquet of soft birch branches used to gently hit oneself. This action aids in circulation and cleans as the birch leaves contain natural soap ingredients.
Inside those amazing forests lies a wonderland of berries and mushrooms. At the time we were there, blueberries were just coming into season. We couldn’t keep up with the free supply from the forest and ate blueberry pie, blueberry pancakes, and blueberries in our cereal daily. I really miss those days, especially when I have to pay a fortune in the grocery store for a tiny tub of this power fruit. We were fortunate enough to also find a few wild strawberries to pick. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right time for cloudberries or lingonberries. In Finland, anyone can pick wild berries, mushrooms or flowers, provided they’re not protected species.
Another forest activity I would’ve loved to have done,
was mushroom picking—especially because my hero and heroine in Helsinki
Sunrise, enjoyed this pastime together.With a total of two hundred species of
edible and wild mushrooms, Finland is mushroom-pickers’ paradise. Boletes (porcini),
and milkcaps are some of the best edible Finnish mushrooms; champignon,
shiitake and oyster mushrooms the most commonly cultivated species. The rich
yellow-colored chanterelle is one of Finland’s most highly valued mushrooms and
can be found growing at the roots of birch trees. There are about fifty toxic
species and at least five are deadly. With names like Destroying Angel, Fly
Agaric, Deadly Webcap, Brown Roll-rim and Funeral Bell, I’d definitely want a
mushroom expert with me if I went foraging in the forests.
Here’s a snippet from Helsinki Sunrise for you to enjoy:
Eveliina threw her head back and let out a delightful giggle. “Adam, you have so much to learn. We Finns have a longstanding love of hunting and foraging. In time, you’ll love it too, I’m sure.”
While out rowing on the lake beside my daughter-in-law’s parents’ home, my husband and I saw these beautiful water lilies, which I’ve subsequently discovered are called Ulpukka.
I also learned two other interesting things about Finnish flowers. Firstly, the exquisite small white bell-shaped Lily of the Valley (Kielo) is Finland’s national flower. What a beautiful and special flower to have representing one’s country.
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys ~ Song of Songs 2:1
The other thing I discovered is not actually a flower at all, although it resembles one. Frost flowers are truly fascinating and creative. It seems that, even in the snow-covered winter, there’ll be flowers in Finland.
And on that note of creativity, Finns love to put flowers on their postage stamps, as well as on their décor. It was during our time in Savonlinna that I was introduced to the vibrant, distinctive floral prints of Marimekko® with their Unikko (poppy flower). My Marimekko® tin was truly a special gift.
I don’t know about you, but I’m quite exhausted after walking the roads, dashing into the forests and rowing on the lakes, smelling (and tasting) this amazing Finnish flora. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to relax for a while on this Finnish swing. Why don’t you join me? You’ll be sure to find one in a Finnish garden near you.
He needed the island to himself. So did she.
Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter's plan. But sometimes plans go awry.
On an impromptu trip to her family's secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.
Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.
Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.
Will he be able to resist her temptations?
Can she withstand his prayers?
Monday is the last stop on Marion Ueckermann’s worldwide blog tour of Helsinki Sunrise for a final author interview at The Vince Review.
There will be an eBook of Helsinki Sunrise up for grabs today. To be entered into the draw, please leave a comment with your email address before September 19th.
Numerous eBooks of Helsinki Sunrise will be given away on the blog tour, so take a journey to each of the stops and leave a comment. Don’t forget to include your email address.
Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble
Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.
Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.
Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series).
Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.
Connect with Marion Ueckermann:
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Permission to use images obtained.
Wow Marion sure has had a blast with this book! I certainly hope you enjoyed this Saturday Spotlight as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you!
Until later.... take care & God Bless!