I was 39 when my grandfather died. He lived a life of hard work and taught everyone who knew him the importance of integrity. He left me his wool top coat, which I have had opportunity to wear on my jaunts back to the cold country.
Im a Minnesotan by birth. Minnesota is a land of harsh extremes; bitter cold in the winter, stifling humidity in the summer. My grandfathers top coat would suit me well were I still living in the North. Im now a transplant one of many, who have migrated to California. I still miss the seasons of Minnesota. Believe it or, its actually possible to enjoy the cold. We used to skate all winter long. When we had a good snow wed grab our sleds and head to a hill. Fun made the winter something to look forward to.
This week Im in Northern Europe. I started the trip in Finland. I think this is my fourth or fifth visit. The first time I visited Finland I was struck by how similar it looked to Minnesota. It was February, so I was glad to have brought my grandfathers coat. The thick wool kept me warm and let me enjoy the surroundings without shivering. Its only November, but Finland is already colder than most people get to experience in their lifetime. Its dark until close to 9 a.m., and again at around 4 p.m. As I sit on the plane headed for Copenhagen its already getting dark outside its 3:50 p.m.
I had meetings in Finland, but I did get the chance to go for a long run this morning. I brought some winter running gear and let the streets guide me. I ended up on a trail that skirted a lake near the citys edge. It felt great to just run along the waters edge. There were a few people out walking their dogs, but as far as I could tell, I was the only runner. My travels have worn me down, so I slept early last night. The run, though, was what really brought me back. The air tasted good and clean. It cleared my head and has left me feeling cleansed.
Tampere is littered with red brick buildings. I love the cityscape. The red brick makes me feel like Im in a different age one with less technology and technology related distractions. Nokia is based here. A few miles outside of Tampere is the city of Nokia where it all began. Now Nokia employs about 1.5% of the total population, but accounts for a sizeable chunk of the countrys wealth generation. Every time Im at the airport I run into people that are technology focused. Its interesting how a technology hub can still make me feel relaxed and removed from it all.
I didnt get the chance to wander around the city much, as I was only here for little over 48 hours. Ill be back. On one of my next visits Ill have to hit a sauna. I may be back in February. That could be my chance. Ill bring my grandfathers top coat. It will remind me of him and keep me warm. It will help me channel good thoughts. It will make me feel at home thousands of miles away from home in an environment very different from the one in which I now live. I wonder if I have anything that will remind my own kids or grandkids of me when I am gone. I wonder if they will think of me as someone who worked hard and taught them important lessons about life, like integrity. I hope that I will carry on his legacy and give my descendants something to keep them warm when they are far away and removed from the immediate proximity of their loved ones. Maybe Ill even get to pass on my grandfathers top coat.