From Touko’s letter to Hely, 21 August 1944

21 August ‘44

Dear Heikkä,

Many thanks for your long letter. It’s noon on a hot day. The boys are working and I have nothing to do. 

So I decided to reply to you, even though writing is hard work in this heat. 

So you say I haven’t told you that I received that parcel; I wonder who I did tell, then. I did thank someone and said that the watch is still ticking. Well, it doesn’t matter who it was, now all of you at home also know that I received it. And before I forget: congratulations to our Lovi-Liisa. 

Life has been great here since Brummer was taken to hospital. There is no hassle, everyone is happy and the sun is shining on everyone. But the clouds will darken the sky when Brummer arrives today. He’s probably going to be the agricultural officer in our sector, so he won’t actually be dealing with the battery. He was very sorry for not having been given that job from the start. He is, after all, a Master of Agriculture and often let the current agricultural officer know that he, actually, know things. Well, I have no objections.  But he’d better not get too involved in things here in the battery. I like running this battery so much that I’d gladly look after the whole thing, despite the enormous responsibility and constant worry and concern. (One section was placed under our command, which adds to these). It’s good fun to do a job that I know how to do quite well, and with people who are happy. But boy, I wish I could learn the noble skill of keeping my mouth shut when it comes to criticising people. Maiski is certainly a good example of this. I’m not surprised the she can’t stop saying things about the man Silfver. To speak evil again, I don’t know anyone more boring and disgusting. Even though I don’t know him that well. But judging by the couple of times I’ve dealt with him, I’ve taken a profound dislike to him. 

So it goes. Summer is flying; it’s almost gone. Although it would be a wonderful summer day in Kakskerta. Yes, out of the corner gate, over the lowest line of barbed wire and straight into a cowpat, which feels nice and slippery between the toes, and a swarm of yellow flies takes off. But that can be soon sorted out with some soft moss. And the woods are nice and cool. Admittedly, there are quite a lot of spider webs this time of year, but that’s part of the ambience. The wind blows on top of the rocky hill. It’d be so nice to stop there to cool off for a long time, admire the familiar landscape and hum the song that brings clear weather, but we’re going to the shores of Airisto past Hylklahti, so move on, along the forest path towards Lehtonen’s cottage. In the meadow with the old apple tree, flowers are still in their brightest bloom, and the wind sways the long grass, where butterflies flutter. We need to take a photo here, and then let’s go. Shall we nip into the pea field? Don’t even ask; it’s a given. They are very wormy – but they taste great! We have to squat to the bottom of a dried and cracked ditch when we see Paavo coming from the direction of Hylklahti on his bike. It’s lovely to loll in the ditch and giggle, surrounded by the hot scent of willowherb. It’s very hot on the road, and of course a passing car flicks up dust onto our already sweaty skin and forehead. We really need a swim.

It’s nice and cool again behind Hylklahti. Look, lingonberries are starting to ripen. And there are mushrooms over there. We should have brought paper bags with us. But what’s this! Can you smell it? Can you smell the salty scent of the sea and hear the cosy rush of the waves, the relaxed hum of the trees? It’s a huge sea, not shoreless, but still spacious enough. It’s difficult to move around in the thicket, but we’ll soon be on the smooth cliffs. It’s scorching hot, what a nice flat rock and how dazzling the glistening waves are. A seagull cries out somewhere above us, the shimmering greenery of the water is attractive. Shall we dive in? Ah, it feels so good. When we return, the sun is already very low. Our legs are pleasantly aching.

August evenings are short. The sun sets behind the woods. But the white phlox. Well, it blooms, it glows calmly sublime. Come and sit down here under the birch tree. Sit back to reminisce about all the lovely things of the past.

So, I dived into something there but it’s time to resurface and get back to reality. Official matters. Just a moment.

All sorted. Where was I? Life is wonderful, all in all, and man is rich and happy as long as he has at least one golden memory such as that. 

We’ve had milk over the past couple of days! At first it was sour, but today it was very good and fresh. After two months without any, it tastes so lovely, as it always did. It won’t be long now until we’ll have new potatoes, so life is good again. If only we had something to do every day, I’d be happy; lots of letters in the post...

About singing... We had our first joint rehearsal with the extended choir on Sunday, i.e. yesterday. And I have to say it sounded completely different, though the tone was not quite the same. I’m sure it’ll get better as the new-comers improve and settle in. Though the harmony we achieved with the old crowd was unbelievably good for a choir in the front, and it’ll be hard to achieve again. But we’ll get better. You know, some of our basses have rehearsed so much that their voices are really low now. I used to take them to the right level of low but now they can sing lower notes than I can.

Yes, I received a letter from Penu. He’s fine, and he’s listening to the crazy people scream.

Well, I think it’s bye for now. Give my love to our parents and I’ll speak to you again soon. 

Touko