Friday, March 30, 2012

Saana Hill, Finland

Saana Hill

This card is from Merja for the Surprise Me round robin. "Saana hill is the highest one in Finland. We have no mountains," she writes. The summit is 3,376 feet above sea level.

There are a number of similar hills in Finland and in the rest of Scandinavia as well. This story involves the hills Saana, Malla, Big Malla, Pältsä, Paras, and the lake Kilpisjärvi which surrounds Saana.


According to a legend - long ago Kilpisjärvi area was lived by giants. Sullen Saana got had a crush on lovely Malla. On the wedding day Pältsä wanted to have the procession stopped. He was also infatuated with Malla. The wedding ceremony would have been held by Paras, the magician. But Pältsä had called the evil elderly women of Lapland to come to the scene. All of a sudden fierce northern wind wiped all of the celebrants with cold wind. Very soon the whole area became filled with ice. At the last moment, Saana rushed the lovely Malla to her mother, Big Malla. Then the freezing cold took away all life. From the tears of lovely Malla was formed Kilpisjärvi - the lake.

The stamp, from 2009, shows the Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park. It has raised dots on it that appear to be Braille, but I'm not sure.

Chinese Fish

Paintings of Various Subjects
Album Leaves by Xu Gu
the Qing Dynasty

This is one of the oldest postcards in my collection, and definitely the first card I ever received from China. It predates my joining Postcrossing by a fair margin. This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday, hosted by Beth. Her theme this week is fish/April Fool's Day. I thought about posting a generic spring card (I have a lot of Japanese cherry blossoms, for example), but I thought a fish would be more appropriate. I chose this one because it was sent by a friend rather than a Postcrossing stranger. (Same friend who sent this one.)

After I chose it I noticed that it was postmarked March 31, which is tomorrow (except in 2009). The top two characters on the postmark are the name of the city, Xi'an 西安. The same characters occur in Japanese, where they would be pronounced sei-an, and mean "west peace." The bottom four characters are nearly illegible, but the first two are "Wild Goose Tower" which is a building in Xi'an. I am guessing that together this is the name/location of the post office from which the card was sent. You know, since that is generally what is printed on postmarks.

I love it when people draw artwork on the backs of cards.

Not sure about the stamp. I think it's a definitive. I've gotten it several times. If the characters mean something similar to what they do in Japanese, the theme of the stamp is protecting diverse species.

A post for Postcard Friendship Friday. Click on the icon to go to the page and participate!

Monday, March 26, 2012

California Gold Country

California gold country
Highway 49, California's Gold Country

According to the back of the card, "In 1848 only a few hundred settlers lived on the foothills of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Then gold was discovered and within a year 90,000 '49ers had appeared. Highway 49, the Golden Chain Highway, takes you through California's Historic Gold Country as it follows the 300 mile-long area enriched by a giant vein of gold called the Mother Lode."

At the time gold was discovered (during the Mexican-American War), California was occupied by the U.S. government, but technically part of Mexico. Neither country really had control over the territory and there were no formal laws or enforcement in place - so the gold seekers were free to stake claims and take all the gold they could get their hands on. Not only Americans, but also people from Hawaii, Latin America, Europe, and even Asia (primarily China), came to prospect for gold.

Thanks Lindsey for this card. :)

Definitive in the old postcard rate of 29¢, showing the herb lavender (Lavendula spp.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Galway, Ireland

Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody.


According to the back of the card, "Often referred to as the capital of the west, Galway is a cultural Mecca of sorts, attracting thousands every year to the many lively festivals hosted by the town. A few of the biggest attractions are the Galway Film Fleadh, the Galway Arts Festivak, the Galway Races and the Oyster Festival. In addition to its status as a contre of language, art, and culture, Galway is home to nearly 13,000 students during the academic year."

I visited Ireland in 2009, and stayed with my awesome friend in Galway. Her apartment was right downtown, just a few minutes' walk from this street. We went out almost every night and listened to Irish music (which we both love), except for one night when we listened to Jim Page at the Crane Bar and wrote love poems.

Galway Love Song
[**hookers = traditional boats of Galway]

Tonight you will not stop for McDonagh's chips,
nor for a loaf of Griffen's brown bread.
You will walk past the brand new bike
sunk in mud at the bottom of the Corrib,
past the hookers' rust-red sails on the Claddagh green.
You will dance around the puddles in the cobbled streets,
dodging hawkers dressed in signboards,
with tunes of flute and fiddle on your lips.
Your footsteps will begin to hurry
in the alley by the King's Head.
You brush past the knot of smokers at the doorway
with their pints of Guinness,
up the creaky wooden stairs
to where I am sitting on the balcony
with my head bowed and my eyes closed,
attention at my fingertips,
making love to my mandolin.

This is an original poem written by me. All rights reserved. You may not copy, share, or use this poem without my permission.