I dream of Värttinä

On the night of July 7 I had a dream entirely in Finnish. I cannot recall the last time I dreamt in Finnish, at least not since the summer of 2000. At that time I lived in Helsinki for the specific purpose of learning Finnish, and I sometimes dreamt in the language of my studies. I suppose with my inundation in the language in advance of my tenth trip to Finland next month, I have been overdoing it in all things Fennica. Dreams are not always rational–I cannot explain why things happened the way they did, but I will write about all that I can still remember.

I was dreaming about the members of Värttinä. I was speaking at first to violinist Lassi Logrén. I have seen Värttinä perform many times (including once in Toronto) and I met up for coffee with Lassi prior to their Toronto gig. I was talking to Lassi in Finnish, yet he was not answering in any discernible language. My greatest linguistic weakness is aural comprehension; I often say that I could never be an interpreter. I can read the language, write it, speak it and translate it, but ask me to comprehend what it is you’ve just said to me and I am often at a loss. This incompetence does not apply to my knowledge of French, German or Romansch. I still have to train myself to parse Finnish as a spoken language. I can easily identify Finnish when I hear it spoken (in fact, when Mark and I were in Florida earlier this year I divebombed a conversation between two Finnish tourists who were chatting by the Easter chocolates in WalMart, so I suppose I am being rather hard on myself in assessing my aural comprehension) but nonetheless, Lassi was not answering me in Finnish. He was speaking some gibberish which made my dreamy self feel totally incompetent. Was my subconscious aware of my weak ability to understand the spoken language, so I ended up dreaming what I did so that I wouldn’t end up having to understand anything said to me?

We were outside and I continued walking a long time until I came to a sandpit used for long jumps. I saw Värttinä singer Karoliina Kantelinen getting ready to do a standing long jump next to a black-haired woman, but this other woman was not with Värttinä. Karoliina was wearing the same dress she wore on the cover of the band’s latest album, Viena. I thought that Karoliina sure wasn’t going to jump very far while being constricted in a dress like that. Besides, she’d get it all dirty once she landed in the sand. She couldn’t go on stage wearing a dirty dress.

Then I walked over to chat with former Värttinä singer Johanna Virtanen (now Johanna Hytti). Outside was full of people, crowds gathering around Johanna and Lassi. I woke up at that point. I wonder if this dream foreshadows any on-the-street encounters next month. I have indeed run into Värttinä band members on the streets of Helsinki, not prior to or after a concert.

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