So, I know this must shock some of you, but when I think about Autumn, I do not automatically think about pumpkins.
I hear you gasp. It’s true. When I think about Autumn, I think of lingonberries and mushrooms and rain. And the creeping darkness that quickly stops creeping and, after the first proper windstorm has carried away all the bright leaves, takes over the scenery and continues until the snows come.
The halloween-pumpkin-bat-autumn combination has arrived in Finland during my adulthood, so obviously, my mind wanders into the forests and bogs covered with lingonberry and cranberry tussocks when the leaves turn yellow.
An Instagram friend recently asked, when is the peak Autumn here. ‘Syyskuu’ is September in Finnish and it literally translates to ‘Autumn month’. So we are at the end of the period now (though this year the whole year has been off-kilter and all the trees are not yet yellow). October is ‘lokakuu’ which literally translates to ‘sleet or mud month’, which is pretty accurate. It’s getting darker and darker and before the snow arrives (closer to Yule, if we’re lucky), it’s going to be dark and cold and miserable. Each day is shorter than the next.
This is, of course, the perfect excuse to huddle up under a blanket and drink tea. And on the weekends, to pack a few rye sandwiches (with pickled cucumber, for some reason) and a thermos of hot cocoa, and head to the forest with a bucket and a berry-picking rake. Afterwards you can make your own juices and jams. And when the yard-raking bee comes around, there will be lingonberry pie for all.
That’s another Finnish thing, though not only restricted to Autumn. A friend in Australia told me that they have similar things, and there they’re called communal bees. It’s basically a weekend or one day of the weekend, when everyone living in the same yard or building takes part in raking the yard of leaves and tidying up the surroundings. The people who don’t have time or the energy to do the work will usually bring something to eat. The communal bee is usually a whole day or a weekend, and you can take part whenever you have time. And afterwards, everyone goes to sauna.
So, though I’ve grown partial to chili-butternut squash soup in the recent years and would consider a toast without zucchini jam a lost opportunity, if someone presented me with a pumpkin, I wouldn’t know what to do about it (though I’d know who to ask 😉 ).
And in the photo at the head of this post is a bowl of vispipuuro, whipped berry porridge. An immovable part of Autumn cuisine. It’s made of berries, farina and sugar. Before the word meaning the colour purple was brought into Finnish, it was called berry porridge colour.
This is just a snippet of the Finnish Autumn for you!