Stäni Steinbock: The Oulu River

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Watercolor of the Oulu River by Stäni's Grandfather Gustaf Strandberg

Watercolor of the Oulu River by Stäni’s Grandfather Gustaf Strandberg

I grew up by the Oulu River in northern Finland, at least in the summer, because I spent my childhood summers at my Granny’s summer place.

Used to swim in the river, we used to row across the river for milk  from a farm on the other side, and I also used to sit by the river just watching the water flow by.

Then, when I was about 12 a giant excavator appeared on the shore just  opposite my Granny’s place. There was a “peninsula”, not very big, but yet such that the water was forced into a channel, and since they used that river for transporting wood from the forests up the river down to  the sea somebody had decided that this “peninsula” should be dug away. This was perhaps the most beautiful place along the river, where there also was a beautiful summer house.

Those idiots thought they’d just dig this peninsula away, and were surprised when they found solid rock under the ground. So these people must have had a total lack of intelligence in their heads! How would a peninsula stand against a river unless there was solid rock under it?

I remember being so angry I wanted to set that giant excavator on fire, but so stupid that I uttered my intentions out loud, and my Granny was adamant that I shouldn’t do that.

So I didn’t. But when I read about people complaining about graffiti by vandals, I can’t help but think they don’t know what real vandalism is. Because I saw this happen – they dug and blasted the most beautiful place on the Oulu River away and instead created an ugly artificial island just in front of my Granny’s shore.

Stäni playing kantele by a tree a few hundred meters from the river

Stäni playing kantele by a tree a few hundred meters from the river

It is said that this was done because somebody had invented this giant excavator, and when it ran out of work destroying something in Lapland they had to invent some new project for it. I will never forgive them, whoever they were.

The sad postscript to this moronic operation is that they don’t even transport wood along the river any longer: Everything goes by asphalt.

I wrote a song (instrumental) about the beautiful part of the river that I remember, and you can hear it here, just select “River Shore Song.”