January 2019 - Wolf stories - by Riikka Kovasin

Hello there! It’s Riikka here with my January two pence worth on the theme of “Stories Untold”.

I read the theme while we were visiting my parents’ house. The house is actually built by my paternal grandfather for his family so I started immediately thinking about stories inside the family. I guess also a Christmas present played a part in that as I received what I had asked for – “Perfect Strangers” TV mini series by Stephen Poliakoff. The cover of the DVD says “If you dig hard enough there are at least three great stories in any family”.

I’m lucky that there’s keen genealogist on both sides of my family. I have big family trees on both from my mother’s and my father’s side. I remember one time we were driving home from visiting my grandparents and I was studying this extensive family tree the whole way home. I found out that somewhere in the past, I think it was the 17th century, one of my forefathers had been a manager of some sort of Kastelholm castle. Naturally that was a lovely thought for a young girl, a castle!

But what I decided to document here is something that I remember my grandfather telling me. He was a brilliant story teller even though he spoke very slowly. I still can remember how his words turned into images in my head and I placed the story in an area I knew, right beside the house he built, even though the actual event took place further away. It was also fun to track down the persons in the story as I couldn’t quite recall them and even my father needed to check. To our surprise the persons turned out to be his grandfather and mother!

I wrote down the story in Finnish besides the page I made but here’s a summary of it. My great grandfather was considered old when he married. It was thought that he would stay unwed, but then something happened. Coming home one night from the woods he saw a remarkable thing. Cattle hurrying down the road and after them a young girl walking backwards, talking and holding something. He stayed to see what was happening. As the girl came closer, he saw that she was holding a bread in her extended arm and talking to a wolf, snarling and following the cattle. She was asking the wolf to eat the bread rather than the cattle. My great grandfather then decided that that brave, calm girl would be his wife and so it happened.

Besides writing down the story I wanted to add something of my own to the page. I guess part of the story’s charm is that it’s telling about relatives, a great story in the family, but partly the charm comes from the animal in question. I’ve always liked wolves. I’m not sure that I would feel the same way if I had met them in the wild, like my great grandmother. But they’ve always been beautiful to my eye. So, I wanted to capture the “wolf story” to generations to come. I carved a snarling wolf stamp. A big part of the creative process in this page was about designing that stamp. I started with some quick sketches, picked up the one I liked the best and continued polishing that design. The actual carving process was fast after that. I used this self-made stamp to decorate the background behind the photo of the lady but didn’t add it behind the man. The Finnish words glued next to the photos say “In a pack of wolves” in hers and “a little bride” in his. As you can see, both clusters have the “your story matters” stamped next to them. And so it is – your story matters!

So, go and do some research and find those family stories! Talk to your grandparents, aunts and other family members! There might be great stories to be found! And if you don’t know where to start, try to find the DVD I started the text with – it has captivating photos and great stories. Another source to get going is through Instagram and account called “Save Family Photos”. Again – there’s some captivating photos and great stories in there!

Thank you for stopping by today! Have a creative start to the 2019! 

If you feel inspired by this month’s theme – STORIES UNTOLD - please feel free to add your project to inlinkz below:
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