What is this thing?

Raili's treasure

What is this thing?” my sister asked, rummaging around in the camphor wood chest .

Turning around to look, I dropped my pile of papers and reached out for it. A hand sized piece of granite. The bottom had at one time in the dim distant past been covered with a strip of green felt. To stop it scuffing. On the left side was a curious lump. In the middle a small shell. And on the right what looked like the remnants of a ramshackle hut.

So just what was it? Memories came flooding back. We were still living in Finland when it was made. Mum had us kids making a father’s day gift. Papier mache house complete with chimney with a grey painted roof. The amorphous looking lump had at one stage been a green fir tree. I had sucked on it like a lolly pop till there was just a small lump left. And I ate the chimney for good measure too. In fact, I can still remember what it tasted like! It would not be to my palate these days…

This treasure had travelled all the way across the world to Tasmania. And then followed our family around Australia for over fifty years. Mum had treasured it so much she made sure it always moved with us.  We had unearthed it whilst sorting family memorabilia after her funeral. Today it sits in pride of place in my lounge display cabinet. It’s a Holy Relic as Eliza Waters so rightly commented on Bun KarYudo’s post on  child art

There were piles of kids drawings. My brother loved horses. There were dozens of his drawings. And a stick figure drawing of mine when I was two. Mum had neatly written a caption on it explaining what it was. I had drawn my family in the rain. This is it, framed and hanging on the wall in our bedroom.

Raii's drawing

Forgive the glare of the camera flash. I didn’t want to remove it from the frame as it is fragile and the edges are tattered. 

There were many holy relics unearthed that day. In the eyes of anyone else they would be rubbish. Mum treasured them above all else. They now serve as tangible reminders to me of the depth of her love for us. Happy Valentine’s Day Mum!


This is me, the only hand coloured photograph in existence from when I was just a rug rat.

© Raili Tanska

Family photos

22 thoughts on “What is this thing?

    1. My father came to Australia in 1959 to check it out and see if it was worth moving his family here. There was a lot of unemployment in Finland then and Dad always had difficulty finding work in winter. He was a carpenter.Mum and us kids followed him in 1960. It is a very beautiful country. But so is Australia. it has its own rich tapestry of beauty that is just different 😉

      1. What a great story 🙂 Sometimes starting again is the best way. I would love to visit Australia some day…its on the list!

  1. Haha! I’d just read about your drawing and made a comment about it on my site about ten minutes ago. I’m very excited to come over here and discover a picture of it here. It was very touching to think of your mother keeping it all those years. It was obviously very special to her. 🙂

    1. Mum was like that – she kept stuff that most people would throw out and threw out stuff most people would keep 🙂 I can understand and appreciate why now.
      I really wanted to take a better picture of it but don’t want to do more damage to what is already a very fragile piece of paper. To me it seemed to be a bit of old wallpaper or some such stuff – crumbly with age – and drawn on both sides. It’s surprising that survived as intact as it did.

      1. I think your photograph of it came out fine. I have a good idea of it. I can tell already that your two-year-old self was a better artist than my two-year-old self. You seem to have discovered the concept of legs.

    1. Thank you HP 🙂 In my mind it is usually in English, although not always. I was very young when we moved, learning to read and write Finnish over here. We did always speak it at home. Even though my husband is Finnish we speak English unless there are Finnish speaking visitors or relatives around. Or we don’t want the kids to understand!

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