Tervetuloa! (Welcome!)

Mary Bryant

From the land of the Aurora Borealis, Ocracoke has special visitors!

A beautiful, intriguing family of five comes to us from Helsinki Finland! Dad is Thatcher Scott Dyer-Mines, Mom is Reetta Ranta (sounds like Greta with no G), 11 year old Vertti, 10 year old Pyry and sweet 6 month old baby boy Paju! Paju means willow in Finnish and it is a beautiful coincidence that there are 2 willow trees in the yard of the house they are staying in while on the island!

Tervetuloa! (Welcome!)
A wedding photo by Gayle Tiller
Thatcher and Reetta are partners in a production company, Power Animals United, which produces incredible programs about nature, travel and many other interesting subjects. The nature in Finland is phenomenal so they have plenty to work with! Finland is affectionately referred to as the Land of a Thousand Lakes, but that number doesn’t even come close. There are a whopping 187,888 lakes within the territory of Finland – the most of any country in the world. If you’re more comfortable roaming around by foot, there’s a total of 179,888 Finnish islands to explore.

One of the areas that they are exploring through Power Animals United is the different ways that the idea of a park service is approached in different countries and how better these natural wonders can be presented to the public.

Thatcher and Reetta met in France while Thatcher was living in Russia and Reetta in Helsinki. Some things are just meant to be! They were married here on Ocracoke last year at Springer’s Point, how romantic! Thatchers parents, Art Mines and Elizabeth Dyer who are well known around the island, were also married here. It’s now a family tradition! Hear that, boys?

Reetta is on maternity leave so what better time for a trip to the island?

Vertti and Pyry just finished up their first week at Ocracoke School and their parents couldn’t be happier. With small class sizes, wonderful teachers and classmates, our school is top-notch. Ocracoke counselor Mary McKnight has been a big help to the family and they are very grateful for all her guidance. The boys started school together in the 4th grade classroom with teacher Jeanie Owens, who has been "very helpful and welcoming to them all." The boys made friends on their first day at school (Halloween) and stayed out until dark celebrating the holiday. 

Ocracoke selfie just for the Current!
Ocracoke selfie just for the Current!
Finland is a country of almost 5.5 million people. It borders Sweden, Norway and Russia. By the time the family were preparing to leave for their journey, the snow had begun to fall. Thatcher said that there is a common misconception that the winters there are horrible and frozen and that most people stay inside. Really, he says, the winter is beautiful, and winter sports abound! Sounds like heaven to a snow lover like me.

The weather here on the island has been great since Hurricane Matthew left us. The nights are especially magical for the family because in Finland, warm nights and dark skies don’t go together. In the summer there, it is light for most of the day and night which makes stargazing difficult. They have been able to view the Milky Way at night here which just isn’t possible in Helsinki.The absence of big city lights make stargazing much easier here.

When we talked about food, they said they love the availability of delicious fresh seafood. One thing they haven’t seen on the menu here is fresh, wild reindeer meat. Not Rudolph! Oh, the humanity. Their favorite food on the island so far? Eduardo’s! They love his food and can’t wait for the Festival Latino de Ocracoke on November 12th!

Traveling with kids is not an undertaking for the weak. Thatcher and Reetta believe that it strengthens the family bond to travel together and overcome all the things that happen along the way. The Ranta-Mines family traveled with their 3 children and a dog who traveled as cargo (a story I know well). They left Helsinki for Copenhagen and flew from Copenhagen to Dulles airport in Washington, DC where they were picked up by their father, Art Mines. Then they traveled here to Ocracoke Island. I have seen Thatcher with the boys on bikes making their way to school and Reetta on her bike with baby Paju and dog Pietu. (Pietu has even made a friend with local coffee shop pooch, Lincoln.) The bicycle culture of Ocracoke is a familiar experience to the family because in Helsinki, more people ride bikes than drive cars! For the winter weather in Finland, bicyclists put special winter tires on their bikes that have spikes for better traction in the ice and snow. Now that is extreme!

When the Ranta-Mines family leaves in about 2.5 months, they will be making their way to Panama and then on to Miami for work. They will then return to Finland for a while but who knows from there? The wanderlust is strong with this family and it seems a very exciting and satisfying life to travel the world and let the children experience so much. I asked if Thatcher was allowed to vote and he is and has already, so Yay, Thatcher! I also asked how this election is perceived by people in Finland and Europe. Reetta told me “From a European point of view, it all looks like a circus, not something that is real or rhetorics definitely not suitable for selecting the leader for the country. More like bad TV entertainment.” I think many of us totally agree with you Reetta!

Where in the world is Finland? (Hint: it's the dark green next to light green Sweden.)
Where in the world is Finland? (Hint: it's the dark green next to light green Sweden.)
One thing is for sure, this will not be their last trip to the island!  Be sure to say hi to them when you see them on the beach or in the village. Want to be cool and say hi in Finnish? Say Hei! 

Some interesting facts about Finland; There are more saunas than cars in Finland! Seriously, most houses in Finland have saunas. There is even a Burger King in Finland with an in-store sauna! There are 2 million saunas in Finland, a country of 5.5 million! If you have a sauna here on Ocracoke, let us know because the family may start to miss theirs! In Finland, 9 out of 10 plastic bottles are returned for recycling and almost 100% of glass bottles are recycled! We could definitely learn from them! In 2010, Finland became the first country in the world to make Internet access a legal right. 

Want to know more? (You can click on the translate button to translate to English)




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