Steaming Man

I stepped out of the sauna, onto the big rock this little cottage is built on, and walked a few yards along the wooden gangway through the reeds that leads to the jetty where we’d tied up the rowing boat. I stood there a while, admiring the coloured fringe of the post-sunset sky. In the cool evening air a delicate mist was rising. Off me, I realised.

The sauna’s effect of course. But I prefer to imagine it’s because of all the manly stuff I did today. Chopping woods and rowing boats and toting bails, that sort of thing. Worked so hard, didn’t need no durn sauna. Steam-cleaned mahself.

Fending off deadly predators too. Mosquitos. Don’t laugh, the mosquito is the most dangerous wild animal in Africa. They aren’t the most dangerous wild animal here, no, but I think that’s rather beside the point.

Perhaps though the hardest task today was taking my turn at looking after two girls, both under seven. It becomes even greater a challenge when your vocabulary in their language does not include such useful phrases as “Put it down”, “Stop doing that she doesn’t like it”, “Does your mother normally let you play with those?” and “Where the hell are you going now?” So far my Finnish extends not much further than yes, thank you, and good; a polite and positive vocabulary, but one that has little application in these circumstances.

I just have to learn to say no.

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