Dinner at Rakas Restaurant & Bar

Steak for growing little bears 🙂
Blueberry heaven

Everything with cherry wine from Denmark!

Denmark’s best wine isn’t made from grapes but from cherries! Although there are vineyards and (grape) wine producers in Denmark, it’s been the Frederiksdal Estate on the Danish island of Lolland that has been making a name for itself. It has become the country’s largest winery; it’s cherry wine receiving numerous accolades.

The medieval estate, dating back to 1305, became a winery almost by accident. The estate’s owner Harald Krabbe had 24 hectares of Stevnsbær cherries, which were sold to the juice industry. He was planning to uproot the trees and grow grain instead. That plan, however, changed when he received a visit from chef Jan Friis-Mikkelsen and journalist Morten Brink Iwersen. They had heard of the excellent cherries from the region and, with their vast knowledge of wine production, inspired Harald Krabbe to turn the cherries into wine.

Today, there is a total of 44 hectares of Stevnsbær cherries at Frederiksdal. The estate is located on Lolland’s westernmost tip, right next to the Langeland Strait. The island’s climate is perfect for cherry production. Winter is mild, spring is early, and the sun is reflected in the sea. All these factors contribute to a long growing season, resulting in great and complex fruit.

The Stevnsbær cherry is a Danish variety, referred to by experts as the Nordic grape, and is not suitable for eating but excellent for wine production. The Stevnsbær cherries grow throughout Northern Europe, yet the Danish ones are the highest in quality.

Frederiksdal Estate Kirsebaer Vin

The cherries are harvested as late in the summer as possible. This usually results in a lower yield but also means the cherries are riper and have a more concentrated flavour in the final wine. After harvest, the fruit is off to the winery where they are left to wild-ferment for three days before they are pressed. The natural yeast present on the fruit attributes for an intensely powerful and deep flavour. After the pressing the hulls and kernels are sent back to the plantation as fertilizer and the semi-fermented must is pumped into new tanks where it is left to complete the fermentation process.

Frederiksdal uses three different types of fermentation vessels. Most of the wine is fermented in steel tanks, giving the wine a neutral and non-affecting flavour. One of the wines produced in the steel tanks is called crisp and undisturbed. It’s a wine with a heavy focus on the original flavour of the fruit.

Another large part of the wines are stored in oak barrels, the minimum amount of aging being six months but it could run up to thirty. According to Frederiksdal, oak is the perfect partner for their cherries. It rounds off the flavour and adds subtle aromas and tannins to the wine.

Last but not least, a small amount of the cherries are used to create an outdoor wine. The wine is placed into small glass vessels and left outdoors. This is a Spanish method called ‘Rancio’ meaning rancid and to burn in Catalan. The wine is left outdoors for one year regardless of the weather conditions. Due to the huge temperature fluctuations and the sunlight, the wine develops its own unique flavour nuances.

In general, Frederiksdal cherry wines are medium sweet with a rich and intense palate. It’s somewhere between port and red wine, but it’s really neither of those. It very much has its own character. Frederiksdal Estate produces around eight different wines ranging from fruity and acidic to rich and complex.

We found the wine went very well with steak!

Log

It’s story time!

There was once a poor couple who had no children. Their neighbors all had boys and girls in plenty but for some reason God didn’t send them even one. “If I can’t have a flesh and blood baby,” the woman said one day, “I’m going to have a wooden baby.” She went to the woods and cut a log of alder just the size of a nice fat baby. She dressed the log in baby clothes and put it in a cradle. Then for three whole years she and her husband rocked the cradle and sang lullabies to the log baby. At the end of three years one afternoon, when the man was out chopping wood and the woman was driving the cows home from pasture, the log baby turned into a real baby! It was so strong and hearty that by the time its parents got home it had crawled out of the cradle and was sitting on the floor yelling lustily for food. It ate and ate and ate and the more it ate the faster it grew. It wasn’t any time at all in passing from babyhood to childhood, from childhood to youth, and from youth to manhood. From its beginnings it was known in the village as Log and never received any other name. Log’s parents knew from the first that Log was destined to be a great hero. That was why he was so strong and so good. There was no one in the village as strong as he nor any one as kind and gentle. Now just at this time a great calamity overtook the world. The Sun and the Moon and the Dawn disappeared from the sky and as a result the earth was left in darkness. “Who have taken from us the Sun and the Moon and the Dawn?” the people cried in terror.

“Whoever they are,” the King said, “they shall have to restore them! Where, O where are the heroes who will undertake to find the Sun and the Moon and the Dawn and return them to their places in the sky?” There were many men willing to offer themselves for the great adventure but the King realized that something more was needed than willingness. “It is only heroes of exceptional strength and endurance,” he said, “who should risk the dangers of so perilous an undertaking.” So he called together all the valiant youths of the kingdom and tested them one by one. He had some waters of great strength and it was his hope to find three heroes the first of whom could drink three bottles of the strong waters, the second six bottles, and the third nine bottles. Hundreds of youths presented themselves and out of them all the King found at last two, one of whom was able to take three bottles of the strong waters, the other six bottles. “But we need three heroes!” the King cried. “Is there no one in all this kingdom strong enough to drink nine bottles?” “Try Log!” some one shouted. All the youths present instantly took up the cry: “Log! Log! Send for Log!” So the King sent for Log and sure enough when Log came he was able to drink down nine bottles of the strong waters without any trouble at all. “Here now,” the King proclaimed, “are the three heroes who are to release the Sun and the Moon and the Dawn from whoever are holding them in captivity and restore them to their places in the sky!” He equipped the three heroes for a long journey furnishing them money and food and drink of the strong waters, each according to his strength. He mounted them each on a mighty horse with sword and arrow and dog. So the three heroes rode off in the dark and the women of the kingdom wept to see them go and the men cheered and wished that they, too, were going. They rode on and on for many days that seemed like nights until they had crossed the confines of their own country and entered the boundaries of an unknown kingdom beyond. Here the darkness was less dense. There was no actual daylight but a faint grayness as of approaching dawn. They rode on until they saw looming up before them the towers of a mighty castle. They dismounted near the castle at the door of a little hut where they found an old woman.

“Good day to you, granny!” Log called out. “Good day, indeed!” the old woman said. “It’s little enough we see of the day since the Evil One cursed the Sun and handed it over to Suyettar’s wicked offspring, the Nine-Headed Serpent!” “The Evil One!” Log exclaimed. “Tell me, granny, why did the Evil One curse the Sun?” “Because he’s evil, my son, that’s why! He said the Sun’s rays blistered him, so he cursed the Sun and gave him over to the Nine-Headed Serpent. And he cursed the Moon, too, because at night when the Moon shone he could not steal. Yes, my son, he cursed the Moon and handed her over to Suyettar’s second offspring, the Six-Headed Serpent. Then he cursed the Dawn because he said he couldn’t sleep in the morning because of the Dawn. So he cursed the Dawn and gave her over to Suyettar’s third offspring, the Three-Headed Serpent.” “Tell me, granny,” Log said, “where do the three Serpents keep prisoner the Sun and the Moon and the Dawn?” “Listen, my son, and I will tell you: When they go far out in the Ocean they carry with them the Sun and the Moon and the Dawn. The Three-Headed Serpent stays out there one day and then returns at night. The Six-Headed Serpent stays two days and then returns, and the mighty Nine-Headed Monster does not return until the third night. As each returns a faint glow spreads over the land. That is why we are not in utter darkness.” Log thanked the old woman and then he and his companions pushed on towards the castle. As they neared it they saw a strange sight which they could not understand. One half of the great castle was laughing and rocking as if in merriment and the other half was weeping as if in grief. “What can this mean?” Log cried out. “We had better ask the old woman before we go on.” So they went back to the hut and the old woman told them all she knew. “It is on account of the dreadful fate that is hanging over the King’s three daughters,” she said. “Those three evil Monsters are demanding them one by one. To-night when the Three-Headed Serpent comes back from the Ocean he expects to devour the eldest. If the King refuses to give her up, then Suyettar’s evil son will devour half the kingdom, half of the castle itself, and half the shining stones. O that some hero would kill the monster and save the princess and at the same time release the Dawn that it might again steal over the world!” Log and his fellows conferred together and the one they called Three Bottles, because his strength was equal to three bottles of the strong waters, declared that it was his task to fight and conquer the Three-Headed Serpent. In the castle meanwhile preparations for the sacrifice of the oldest princess were going forward. As the King sewed the poor girl into a great leather sack, his tears fell so fast that he could scarcely see what he was doing.

“My dear child,” he said, “it should comfort you greatly to think that the Monster is going to eat you instead of half the kingdom! Not many princesses are considered as important as half the kingdom!” The princess knew that what her father said must be true and she did her best to look cheerful as they slipped the sack over her head. Once inside, however, she allowed herself to cry for she knew that no one could see her. The sack with the princess inside was carried down to the beach and put on a high rock near the place where Suyettar’s sons were wont to come up out of the water. “Don’t be frightened, my daughter!” the King called out as he and all the Court started back to the castle. “You won’t have long to wait, for it will soon be evening.” Log and his companions watched the King’s party disappear and then Three Bottles solemnly drank down the three bottles of strong waters with which his own King had equipped him. As he was ready to mount his horse, he handed Log the leash to which his dog was attached. “If I need help,” he said, “I’ll throw back my shoe and do you then release my dog.” With that he rode boldly down to the beach, dismounted, and climbed up the rock where the unfortunate princess lay in a sack. With one slash of the sword he ripped open the sack and dragged the princess out. She supposed of course that he was the Three-Headed Serpent and at first was so frightened that she kept her eyes tightly shut not daring to look at him. She expected every minute to have him take a first bite and, when minutes and more minutes and more minutes still went by and he didn’t, she opened her eyes a little crack to see what was the matter. “Oh!” the princess said. She was so surprised that for a long time she didn’t dare to take another peep. “You thought I was the Three-Headed Serpent, didn’t you?” a pleasant voice asked. “But I’m not. I’m only a young man who has come to rescue you.” The princess murmured, “Oh!” again, but this time the “Oh!” expressed happy relief. “Yes,” repeated the young man, “I am the hero who has come to rescue you. My comrades call me Three Bottles and you, too, may call me that. And while we are waiting for the Serpent to come in from the Ocean I wish you would scratch my head.” The princess wasn’t in the least surprised at this request. Heroes and monsters and fathers alike seemed always to want their heads scratched. So Three Bottles stretched himself at the princess’ feet and put his head in her lap. He settled himself comfortably and she scratched his head while he gazed out over the dark Ocean waiting for the Serpent to appear. At first there was nothing to break the glassy surface of the water. They waited and at last far out they saw three swirling masses rolling landward. “Quick, my princess!” Three Bottles cried. “There comes the Monster now! Get you down behind the rock and hide there while I go meet the creature and chop off his ugly heads!” The princess, quivering with fright, crouched down behind the rock and Three Bottles, mounting his horse, rode boldly down to the water’s edge awaiting the Serpent’s coming. It came nearer and nearer in long easy swirls, slowly lifting its three scaly heads one after another. As it approached shore it sniffed the air hungrily. “Fee, fi, fo, fum!” it muttered in a deep voice, repeating the magic rhyme it had learned from its evil mother, Suyettar: “Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell a Finn! Yum! Yum! I’ll fall upon him with a thud! I’ll pick his bones and drink his blood! Fee, fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!” “Stop boasting, son of Suyettar!” Three Bottles cried. “You’ll have time enough to boast after you fight!” “Fight?” repeated the Serpent as if in surprise. “Shall we fight, pretty boy, you and I? Very well! Blow then with your sweet breath, blow out a long level platform of red copper whereon we can meet and try our strength each with the other!” “Nay,” answered Three Bottles. “Do you blow with your evil breath and instead of red copper we shall have a platform of black iron.” So the Serpent blew and on the iron platform that came of his breath Three Bottles met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Three Bottles striking right and left with his mighty sword, the Serpent hitting at Three Bottles with all his scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his mouths. Three Bottles whacked off one scaly head and at last a second one, but he was unable to touch the third. “I shall have to have help,” he acknowledged to himself finally, and reaching down he took one of his shoes and threw it over his shoulder back to his comrades who were awaiting the outcome of the struggle. Instantly they loosed the dog which bounded forward to its master’s assistance and soon with the dog’s help Three Bottles was able to dispatch the last head.

He was faint now with weariness and his comrades had to help him back to the old woman’s hut where he soon fell asleep. Night passed and Dawn appeared. A great cry of relief and thanksgiving went up from all the earth. “The Dawn! The Dawn!” people cried. “God bless the man who has released the Dawn!” Only at the castle was there sorrow still. “My poor oldest daughter!” the King cried with tears in his eyes. “It was my sacrifice of her that has released the Dawn!” Then he called his slaves and gave them orders to gather up his daughter’s bones and to bring back the leather sack. “We shall need it again to-night,” he said. He wiped his eyes and for a moment could say no more. “Yes, to-night we shall have to sew up my second daughter and offer her to the Six-Headed Serpent, him that holds captive the Moon. Otherwise the monster will devour half my kingdom, half the castle, and half the shining stones. Ai! Ai! Ai!” But the slaves when they went to the high rock on the seashore found, not the princess’ bones, but the princess herself, sitting there with her chin in her hand, gazing down on the beach which was strewn with the fragments of the Three-Headed Serpent. They led her back to her father and reported the marvel they had seen. “There, O King, lies the monster on the sand with all his heads severed! So huge are the heads that it would need three men with derricks to move one of them!” “Some unknown hero has rescued my oldest daughter!” the King cried. “Would that another might come to-night to rescue my second child likewise! But, alas! what hero is strong enough to destroy the Six-Headed Monster!” So when evening came they sewed the second princess in the sack and carried her out to the rock. Log and his companions saw the procession move down from the castle and they saw that the castle was again disturbed, one half of it laughing and one half weeping. “It’s the second princess to-night,” the old woman told them. “Unless her father, the King, gives her to the Six-Headed Serpent, the Monster will come and devour half the kingdom, half the castle, and half the shining stones. He it is that holds the Moon captive and the hero that slays him will release the Moon.” Then he whom his comrades called Six Bottles cried out: “Here is work for me!” He drank bottle after bottle of the strong waters until he had emptied six.

“Now I am ready!” he shouted. He mounted his mighty horse and as he rode off he called to his comrades: “If I need help I’ll throw back a shoe and do you then unleash my dog!” He rode to the rock on the shore and dismounted. Then he climbed the rock and released the second princess. He told her who he was and as they awaited the arrival of the Six-Headed Serpent he lay at the princess’ feet and she scratched his head. This time the Serpent came in six mighty swirls with six awful heads that reared up one after another. In terror the second princess hid behind the rock while Six Bottles, mounting his horse, rode boldly down to the water’s edge. Like his brother Serpent this one, too, came sniffing the air hungrily, muttering the magic rime he had learned from his mother, wicked Suyettar: “Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell a Finn! Yum! Yum! I’ll fall upon him with a thud! I’ll pick his bones and drink his blood! Fee, fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!” “Stop boasting, son of an evil mother!” Six Bottles cried. “You will have time enough to boast after you fight!” “Fight?” repeated the Serpent scornfully. “Shall we fight, little one, you and I? Very well! Blow then with your sweet breath, blow out a long level platform of white silver whereon we can meet and try our strength one with the other.” “Nay!” answered Six Bottles. “Do you blow, blow with your evil breath, and instead of white silver we shall have a platform of red copper.” So the Serpent blew and on the copper platform that came of his breath Six Bottles met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Six Bottles striking left and right with his mighty sword, the Serpent hitting at Six Bottles with every one of his six scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his mouths. Six Bottles whacked off one head, then another, then another. At last he had disposed of five heads. He tried hard to strike the last, but by this time the Serpent had grown weary and Six Bottles’ own strength was waning. So he reached down and took one of his shoes and threw it over his shoulder back to his comrades who were awaiting the outcome of the struggle. Instantly they loosed the dog which bounded forward to its master’s assistance and soon with the dog’s help Six Bottles was able to dispatch the last head. Then his comrades led him, weary from the fight, to the old woman’s hut and soon he fell asleep.

While he slept the Moon appeared in the sky and a great cry of relief and thanksgiving went up from all the world: “The Moon! The Moon! God bless the man who has released the Moon!” The King who was awakened by the sound looked out the castle window and when he saw the Moon, returned to its place in the sky, his eyes overflowed with grief. “My poor second daughter!” he cried. “It was my sacrifice of her that has released the Moon! To-morrow morning I will send the slaves to gather up her bones and to bring back the leather sack into which, alas! I must then sew my youngest daughter for evil Suyettar’s third son, the Nine-Headed Serpent. Ai! Ai! Ai! How sad it is to be a father!” But on the morrow when the slaves went to the rock they found the second princess sitting there alone gazing down upon the scattered fragments of the Six-Headed Serpent. “Here she is, safe and sound!” they reported to the King as they led the second princess into his presence, “and, marvel of marvels! on the beach below the rock lies the body of the Six-Headed Serpent torn to pieces! Its heads, O King, are so monstrous that six men with derricks could scarcely move one of them!” “God be praised!” the King cried. “Another unknown hero has come and saved the life of my second child! Would that a third might come to-night and rescue the life of my youngest child! Alas, she is dearer to me than both the others, but I fear me that even if there be heroes who could dispatch the first two Serpents, there is never one who can touch him of the Nine Heads that holds the mighty Sun a captive!” And the poor King wept, so sure was he that nothing could save the life of his youngest child. When Log and his companions heard of the King’s grief, Log at once stood forth and said: “This last and mightiest battle is for me!” He opened the strong waters and drank bottle after bottle until he had emptied nine. “Now let night come as soon as it will!” he cried. “I am ready for the Monster!” He started forth telling his comrades he would throw back a shoe if he needed help from his dog. So it was Log himself who slashed open the sack for the third time and released the Youngest Princess who was much more beautiful than her sisters. She fell in love with the mighty hero on sight and was so thrilled with his godlike beauty that when he put his head in her lap she hardly knew what to do although her father always declared that she scratched his head much better than either of her sisters. They had not long to wait for soon all the Ocean was a glitter with the swirls of the ninefold Monster who was coming to shore with the captive Sun in his keeping.

“Await me behind the rock!” Log cried to the Princess as he leapt upon his horse and started forward. “Oh, Log, my hero, be careful!” the Princess cried after him. Nearer and nearer came the swirls of the nine-coiled Monster. One after another of his nine heads rose and fell as he approached, and every head sniffed more hungrily as it came nearer, and each head rumbled as it sniffed: “Fee, fi, fo, fum! I smell a Finn! Yum! Yum! I’ll fall upon him with a thud! I’ll pick his bones and drink his blood! Fee, fi, fo, fum! Yum! Yum!” “Stop boasting, evil son of an evil mother!” Log cried. “You will have time enough to boast after you fight!” “Fight?” roared the awful Monster. “Shall we fight, poor infant, you and I? Very well! Blow then with your sweet breath, blow out a long level platform of shining gold whereon we can meet and try our strength each with the other!” “Nay!” Log answered boldly. “Do you blow, blow with your evil breath and instead of shining gold we shall have a platform of white silver.” So the Monster blew and on the silver platform that came of his breath Log met him in combat. Back and forth they raged, Log striking right and left with his mighty sword, the Serpent hitting at Log with all his nine scaly heads and belching forth fire and smoke from all his nine mouths. Log whacked off head after head until six lay gaping on the sand. But the last three he could not get. Suddenly he pointed behind the Serpent and cried: “Quick! Quick! The Sun! It is escaping!” The Serpent looked around and Log whacked off a head. Now only two remained, but try as he would Log could get neither of them. Again he tried a subterfuge. “Your wife, O Son of Suyettar! See, yonder, they’re abusing her!” The Monster looked and Log whacked off another head. But one now remained and as usual it was the hardest of them all to get. Log felt his strength waning while the Monster seemed more nimble than ever. “I shall have to have help,” Log thought. He threw back his shoe to his comrades and they at once loosed his dog. With the dog’s help Log was soon able to dispatch the last head.

Then Three Bottles and Six Bottles helped him off his horse and supported him to the old woman’s hut where he soon fell into a deep sleep. The next morning the blessed Sun rose at his proper time and people all over the world, falling on their knees with thanksgiving and weeping with joy, cried out: “The Sun! The Sun! God bless the man who has released the Sun!” At the castle they waked the King with the good news but the King only shook his head and murmured in grief: “Yes, the Sun is released but what care I since my favorite child, my youngest daughter, has been sacrificed!” He dispatched the slaves to gather up her bones and presently these returned bringing the Princess herself and telling a marvelous tale of the beach littered with nine severed heads so huge that it would need nine men with derricks to move one of them. “What manner of heroes are these who have rescued my daughters!” cried the King. “Let them come forth and I will give them my daughters for wives and half my riches for dowry! But they will have to prove themselves the actual heroes by bringing to the castle the heavy heads of the Monsters they have slain.” When Log and his fellows heard this they laughed with happiness and, strengthening themselves with deep draughts of the strong waters, they gathered together the many heads of the mighty Serpents, bore them to the castle, and piled them up at the King’s feet. Then Log stepped forward and said: “Here we are, O King, come to claim our reward!” The King, true to his promise, gave them his daughters in marriage, the oldest to Three Bottles, the second to Six Bottles, and the lovely Youngest to Log. Then he apportioned them the half of his riches and, after much feasting and merrymaking, the heroes took their brides and their riches and bidding the King farewell started homewards. As they rode through a great forest they sighted a tiny hut and Log, motioning his comrades to wait for him quietly, crept forward to see who was in the hut. It was well he was cautious for inside the hut was Suyettar herself talking to two other old hags. “Ay,” she was saying, “they have slain my three beautiful sons, my mighty offspring that held captive the Sun and the Moon and the Dawn! But I tell you, sisters, they will pay the penalty….” To hear better Log changed himself into a piece of firewood and slipping inside the hut hid himself in the woodpile near the stove. “Ay, they will pay the penalty!” Suyettar repeated. “I shall have my revenge on them! A fine supper Suyettar shall soon have, yum, yum! I’ll fall upon them with a thud! I’ll pick their bones and drink their blood!

Fools, fools, to think they can escape Suyettar’s anger!” “But sister, sister,” the two old hags asked, “how will you get them?” Suyettar looked this way and that to make sure that no one was listening. Then she whispered: “This is how I shall get them: As they come through this forest, the three men with their brides, I shall send upon them a terrible hunger. Then they shall come suddenly upon a table spread with tempting food. One bite of that food and they are in my power, he-he! Ay, sisters, to-night Suyettar will have a fine supper! Nothing can save them unless, before they touch the food, some one make the sign of the cross three times over the table. Then table and food would disappear and also the ravening hunger. But even if that happens Suyettar shall still get them!” “How, sister, how?” the other two asked. “Presently I should send upon them consuming thirst, and then put in their pathway a spring of cold sparkling water. One drop of that water and they are in my power, he-he! Nothing can save them from me unless, before their lips touch the water, some one make the sign of the cross three times over the spring. At that the spring would disappear and also their thirst. But even if they escape the spring, I shall still get them. I shall send great heaviness on them and a longing for sleep, then let them come upon a row of soft inviting feather beds. If they cast themselves upon the beds, they are mine, he-he! to feast upon as I will! Nothing can save but that some one make the sign of the cross three times over the beds before they touch them. Oh, sisters, I shall get them one way or another for there is no one to warn them. If there was any one to warn them, he wouldn’t dare tell them what he knows for he would also know that if he told them he would himself be turned into a blue cross and have to stand forever in the cemetery.” As Log knew now all the dangers that threatened, he slipped away from the woodpile and, when he was outside, took his own shape and hurried back to his comrades. “Away!” he cried. “We are in great danger!” They all spurred their horses and rode swiftly on until Three Bottles suddenly cried: “Hold, comrades, hold! I am faint with hunger!” “Me, too!” cried Six Bottles. At that instant a great table, laden with delicious food, appeared before them. “Look!” cried the one of them. “Food!” cried the other. They flung themselves from their horses and ran towards the table. But quick as they were, Log was quicker. He reached the table first and, raising his hand, made the sign of the cross three times. The table disappeared as suddenly as it had come and with it the strange hunger that had but now consumed them. “Strange!” Three Bottles exclaimed. “I thought I was hungry, but I’m not!” “I thought I saw food just now,” Six Bottles said. “I must have been dreaming.” So they mounted again and pushed on. “Danger threatens us,” said Log. “We must hurry and not dismount no matter what the temptation.” They agreed but presently one of them cried out and then the other: “Water! Water! We shall soon perish unless we have water!” Instantly by the wayside appeared a spring of cool sparkling water and it was all Log could do to reach it before his fellows. He did get there first and make the sign of the cross three times whereat the spring disappeared and with it the thirst which had but now consumed them all. “I thought I was thirsty,” Three Bottles said, “but I’m not!” “Why did we dismount?” Six Bottles asked. “There’s no water here.” So again they mounted and went forward and Log, warning them again that danger threatened, begged them not to dismount a third time no matter what the temptation. They promised they would not but presently, complaining of fatigue, they wanted to. Their brides, too, swayed in the saddle, overcome with weariness and sleep. “Dear Log,” they said, “let us rest for an hour. See, our brides are drooping with fatigue! One hour’s sleep and we shall all be refreshed!” Instantly beside them on the forest floor they saw three soft white feather beds. Log leaped to the ground but before he was able to make the sign of the cross over more than one of the beds, his comrades and their brides had fallen headlong on the other two. And that was the end of poor Three Bottles and Six Bottles and their two lovely brides. There was no way now of saving them from Suyettar. She had them in her power and nothing would induce her to give them up. As Log and his bride sadly mounted their horse and rode on they heard an evil voice chanting out in triumph: “I’ll fall upon them with a thud, he-he! I’ll pick their bones and drink their blood, he-he!” “Poor fellows! Poor fellows!” Log said, and the Princess wept to think of the awful fate that had overtaken her two sisters.

Well, Log and his bride reached home without further adventure and were received by the King with great honors. “I knew my heroes were succeeding,” the King said, “when first the Dawn appeared again, and then the Moon, and last the mighty Sun. All hail to you, Log, and to your two comrades! But, by the way, where are Three Bottles and Six Bottles?” “Your Majesty,” Log said, “Three Bottles and Six Bottles were brave men both. By their prowess they released the one the Dawn, the other the Moon. Then in an evil adventure on the way home they perished. I can tell you no more.” “You can tell me no more?” the King said. “Why can you tell me no more? What was the evil adventure in which they perished?” “If I told you, O King, then I, too, should perish, for I should be turned into a blue cross and stood forever in the cemetery!” “What nonsense!” the King exclaimed. “Who would turn you into a blue cross and stand you forever in the cemetery?” “That is what I cannot tell you,” Log said. The King laughed and pressed Log no further, but the people of the kingdom, scenting a mystery, insisted on knowing in detail what had happened the other two heroes. Presently the rumor began to spread that Log himself had done away with them in order that he might gather to himself all the glory of the undertaking. The King was forced at last to send for him again and to demand a full account of everything. Log realized that his end was near. He met it bravely. Commending to the King’s protection his lovely bride, the Youngest Princess, Log related how the three mighty Serpents whom they had killed were sons of Suyettar, and how in revenge Suyettar had succeeded in destroying Three Bottles and Six Bottles together with their brides. Then he told the fate about to overtake himself. He finished speaking and as the King and the Court looked at him, to their amazement he disappeared. “To the cemetery!” some one cried. They all went to the cemetery where at once they found a fresh blue cross that had come there nobody knew how. There it stands to this day, a reminder of the life and deeds of the mighty hero, Log. The King was overcome with sorrow at losing such a hero. He took Log’s bride under his protection and he found her so beautiful and so gentle that soon he fell in love with her and married her.

Mighty Mikko

Home alone… What shall we do now?

We can listen to a Finnish story.

Chocolate goes well with a story…

There was once an old woodsman and his wife who had an only son named Mikko. As the mother lay dying the young man wept bitterly. “When you are gone, my dear mother,” he said, “there will be no one left to think of me.” The poor woman comforted him as best she could and said to him: “You will still have your father.” Shortly after the woman’s death, the old man, too, was taken ill. “Now, indeed, I shall be left desolate and alone,” Mikko thought, as he sat beside his father’s bedside and saw him grow weaker and weaker. “My boy,” the old man said just before he died, “I have nothing to leave you but the three snares with which these many years I have caught wild animals. Those snares now belong to you. When I am dead, go into the woods and if you find a wild creature caught in any of them, free it gently and bring it home alive.” After his father’s death, Mikko remembered the snares and went out to the woods to see them. The first was empty and also the second, but in the third he found a little red Fox. He carefully lifted the spring that had shut down on one of the Fox’s feet and then carried the little creature home in his arms. He shared his supper with it and when he lay down to sleep the Fox curled up at his feet. They lived together some time until they became close friends. “Mikko,” said the Fox one day, “why are you so sad?” “Because I’m lonely.” “Pooh!” said the Fox. “That’s no way for a young man to talk! You ought to get married! Then you wouldn’t feel lonely!” “Married!” Mikko repeated. “How can I get married? I can’t marry a poor girl because I’m too poor myself and a rich girl wouldn’t marry me.” “Nonsense!” said the Fox. “You’re a fine well set up young man and you’re kind and gentle. What more could a princess ask?” Mikko laughed to think of a princess wanting him for a husband. “I mean what I say!” the Fox insisted. “Take our own Princess now. What would you think of marrying her?” Mikko laughed louder than before. “I have heard,” he said, “that she is the most beautiful princess in the world! Any man would be happy to marry her!” “Very well,” the Fox said, “if you feel that way about her then I’ll arrange the wedding for you.” With that the little Fox actually did trot off to the royal castle and gain audience with the King. “My master sends you greetings,” the Fox said, “and he begs you to loan him your bushel measure.” “My bushel measure!” the King repeated in surprise. “Who is your master and why does he want my bushel measure?” “Ssh!” the Fox whispered as though he didn’t want the courtiers to hear what he was saying. Then slipping up quite close to the King he murmured in his ear: “Surely you have heard of Mikko, haven’t you?—Mighty Mikko as he’s called.”

The King had never heard of any Mikko who was known as Mighty Mikko but, thinking that perhaps he should have heard of him, he shook his head and murmured: “H’m! Mikko! Mighty Mikko! Oh, to be sure! Yes, yes, of course!” “My master is about to start off on a journey and he needs a bushel measure for a very particular reason.” “I understand! I understand!” the King said, although he didn’t understand at all, and he gave orders that the bushel measure which they used in the storeroom of the castle be brought in and given to the Fox. The Fox carried off the measure and hid it in the woods. Then he scurried about to all sorts of little out of the way nooks and crannies where people had hidden their savings and he dug up a gold piece here and a silver piece there until he had a handful. Then he went back to the woods and stuck the various coins in the cracks of the measure. The next day he returned to the King. “My master, Mighty Mikko,” he said, “sends you thanks, O King, for the use of your bushel measure.” The King held out his hand and when the Fox gave him the measure he peeped inside to see if by chance it contained any trace of what had recently been measured. His eye of course at once caught the glint of the gold and silver coins lodged in the cracks. “Ah!” he said, thinking Mikko must be a very mighty lord indeed to be so careless of his wealth; “I should like to meet your master. Won’t you and he come and visit me?” This was what the Fox wanted the King to say but he pretended to hesitate. “I thank your Majesty for the kind invitation,” he said, “but I fear my master can’t accept it just now. He wants to get married soon and we are about to start off on a long journey to inspect a number of foreign princesses.” This made the King all the more anxious to have Mikko visit him at once for he thought that if Mikko should see his daughter before he saw those foreign princesses he might fall in love with her and marry her. So he said to the Fox: “My dear fellow, you must prevail on your master to make me a visit before he starts out on his travels! You will, won’t you?” The Fox looked this way and that as if he were too embarrassed to speak. “Your Majesty,” he said at last, “I pray you pardon my frankness. The truth is you are not rich enough to entertain my master and your castle isn’t big enough to house the immense retinue that always attends him.” The King, who by this time was frantic to see Mikko, lost his head completely. “My dear Fox,” he said, “I’ll give you anything in the world if you prevail upon your master to visit me at once! Couldn’t you suggest to him to travel with a modest retinue this time?”

The Fox shook his head. “No. His rule is either to travel with a great retinue or to go on foot disguised as a poor woodsman attended only by me.” “Couldn’t you prevail on him to come to me disguised as a poor woodsman?” the King begged. “Once he was here, I could place gorgeous clothes at his disposal.” But still the Fox shook his head. “I fear Your Majesty’s wardrobe doesn’t contain the kind of clothes my master is accustomed to.” “I assure you I’ve got some very good clothes,” the King said. “Come along this minute and we’ll go through them and I’m sure you’ll find some that your master would wear.” So they went to a room which was like a big wardrobe with hundreds and hundreds of hooks upon which were hung hundreds of coats and breeches and embroidered shirts. The King ordered his attendants to bring the costumes down one by one and place them before the Fox. They began with the plainer clothes. “Good enough for most people,” the Fox said, “but not for my master.” Then they took down garments of a finer grade. “I’m afraid you’re going to all this trouble for nothing,” the Fox said. “Frankly now, don’t you realize that my master couldn’t possibly put on any of these things!” The King, who had hoped to keep for his own use his most gorgeous clothes of all, now ordered these to be shown. The Fox looked at them sideways, sniffed them critically, and at last said: “Well, perhaps my master would consent to wear these for a few days. They are not what he is accustomed to wear but I will say this for him: he is not proud.” The King was overjoyed. “Very well, my dear Fox, I’ll have the guest chambers put in readiness for your master’s visit and I’ll have all these, my finest clothes, laid out for him. You won’t disappoint me, will you?” “I’ll do my best,” the Fox promised. With that he bade the King a civil good day and ran home to Mikko. The next day as the Princess was peeping out of an upper window of the castle, she saw a young woodsman approaching accompanied by a Fox. He was a fine stalwart youth and the Princess, who knew from the presence of the Fox that he must be Mikko, gave a long sigh and confided to her serving maid: “I think I could fall in love with that young man if he really were only a woodsman!” Later when she saw him arrayed in her father’s finest clothes—which looked so well on Mikko that no one even recognized them as the King’s—she lost her heart completely and when Mikko was presented to her she blushed and trembled just as any ordinary girl might before a handsome young man. All the Court was equally delighted with Mikko. The ladies went into ecstasies over his modest manners, his fine figure, and the gorgeousness of his clothes, and the old graybeard Councilors, nodding their heads in approval, said to each other: “Nothing of the coxcomb about this young fellow! In spite of his great wealth see how politely he listens to us when we talk!” The next day the Fox went privately to the King, and said: “My master is a man of few words and quick judgment. He bids me tell you that your daughter, the Princess, pleases him mightily and that, with your approval, he will make his addresses to her at once.” The King was greatly agitated and began: “My dear Fox—” But the Fox interrupted him to say: “Think the matter over carefully and give me your decision to-morrow.” So the King consulted with the Princess and with his Councilors and in a short time the marriage was arranged and the wedding ceremony actually performed! “Didn’t I tell you?” the Fox said, when he and Mikko were alone after the wedding. “Yes,” Mikko acknowledged, “you did promise that I should marry the Princess. But, tell me, now that I am married what am I to do? I can’t live on here forever with my wife.” “Put your mind at rest,” the Fox said. “I’ve thought of everything. Just do as I tell you and you’ll have nothing to regret. To-night say to the King: ‘It is now only fitting that you should visit me and see for yourself the sort of castle over which your daughter is hereafter to be mistress!’” When Mikko said this to the King, the King was overjoyed for now that the marriage had actually taken place he was wondering whether he hadn’t perhaps been a little hasty. Mikko’s words reassured him and he eagerly accepted the invitation. On the morrow the Fox said to Mikko:

“Now I’ll run on ahead and get things ready for you.” “But where are you going?” Mikko said, frightened at the thought of being deserted by his little friend. The Fox drew Mikko aside and whispered softly: “A few days’ march from here there is a very gorgeous castle belonging to a wicked old dragon who is known as the Worm. I think the Worm’s castle would just about suit you.” “I’m sure it would,” Mikko agreed. “But how are we to get it away from the Worm?” “Trust me,” the Fox said. “All you need do is this: lead the King and his courtiers along the main highway until by noon to-morrow you reach a crossroads. Turn there to the left and go straight on until you see the tower of the Worm’s castle. If you meet any men by the wayside, shepherds or the like, ask them whose men they are and show no surprise at their answer. So now, dear master, farewell until we meet again at your beautiful castle.” The little Fox trotted off at a smart pace and Mikko and the Princess and the King attended by the whole Court followed in more leisurely fashion. The little Fox, when he had left the main highway at the crossroads, soon met ten woodsmen with axes over their shoulders. They were all dressed in blue smocks of the same cut. “Good day,” the Fox said politely. “Whose men are you?” “Our master is known as the Worm,” the woodsmen told him. “My poor, poor lads!” the Fox said, shaking his head sadly. “What’s the matter?” the woodsmen asked. For a few moments the Fox pretended to be too overcome with emotion to speak. Then he said: “My poor lads, don’t you know that the King is coming with a great force to destroy the Worm and all his people?” The woodsmen were simple fellows and this news threw them into great consternation. “Is there no way for us to escape?” they asked. The Fox put his paw to his head and thought. “Well,” he said at last, “there is one way you might escape and that is by telling every one who asks you that you are the Mighty Mikko’s men. But if you value your lives never again say that your master is the Worm.”

“We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” the woodsmen at once began repeating over and over. “We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” A little farther on the road the Fox met twenty grooms, dressed in the same blue smocks, who were tending a hundred beautiful horses. The Fox talked to the twenty grooms as he had talked to the woodsmen and before he left them they, too, were shouting: “We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” Next the Fox came to a huge flock of a thousand sheep tended by thirty shepherds all dressed in the Worm’s blue smocks. He stopped and talked to them until he had them roaring out: “We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” Then the Fox trotted on until he reached the castle of the Worm. He found the Worm himself inside lolling lazily about. He was a huge dragon and had been a great warrior in his day. In fact his castle and his lands and his servants and his possessions had all been won in battle. But now for many years no one had cared to fight him and he had grown fat and lazy. “Good day,” the Fox said, pretending to be very breathless and frightened. “You’re the Worm, aren’t you?” “Yes,” the dragon said, boastfully, “I am the great Worm!” The Fox pretended to grow more agitated. “My poor fellow, I am sorry for you! But of course none of us can expect to live forever. Well, I must hurry along. I thought I would just stop and say good-by.” Made uneasy by the Fox’s words, the Worm cried out: “Wait just a minute! What’s the matter?” The Fox was already at the door but at the Worm’s entreaty he paused and said over his shoulder: “Why, my poor fellow, you surely know, don’t you? that the King with a great force is coming to destroy you and all your people!” “What!” the Worm gasped, turning a sickly green with fright. He knew he was fat and helpless and could never again fight as in the years gone by. “Don’t go just yet!” he begged the Fox. “When is the King coming?” “He’s on the highway now! That’s why I must be going! Good-by!” “My dear Fox, stay just a moment and I’ll reward you richly! Help me to hide so that the King won’t find me! What about the shed where the linen is stored? I could crawl under the linen and then if you locked the door from the outside the King could never find me.”

“Very well,” the Fox agreed, “but we must hurry!” So they ran outside to the shed where the linen was kept and the Worm hid himself under the linen. The Fox locked the door, then set fire to the shed, and soon there was nothing left of that wicked old dragon, the Worm, but a handful of ashes. The Fox now called together the dragon’s household and talked them over to Mikko as he had the woodsmen and the grooms and the shepherds. Meanwhile the King and his party were slowly covering the ground over which the Fox had sped so quickly. When they came to the ten woodsmen in blue smocks, the King said: “I wonder whose woodsmen those are.” One of his attendants asked the woodsmen and the ten of them shouted out at the top of their voices: “We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” Mikko said nothing and the King and all the Court were impressed anew with his modesty. A little farther on they met the twenty grooms with their hundred prancing horses. When the grooms were questioned, they answered with a shout: “We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” “The Fox certainly spoke the truth,” the King thought to himself, “when he told me of Mikko’s riches!” A little later the thirty shepherds when they were questioned made answer in a chorus that was deafening to hear: “We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” The sight of the thousand sheep that belonged to his son-in-law made the King feel poor and humble in comparison and the courtiers whispered among themselves: “For all his simple manner, Mighty Mikko must be a richer, more powerful lord than the King himself! In fact it is only a very great lord indeed who could be so simple!” At last they reached the castle which from the blue smocked soldiers that guarded the gateway they knew to be Mikko’s. The Fox came out to welcome the King’s party and behind him in two rows all the household servants. These, at a signal from the Fox, cried out in one voice: “We are Mighty Mikko’s men!” Then Mikko in the same simple manner that he would have used in his father’s mean little hut in the woods bade the King and his followers welcome and they all entered the castle where they found a great feast already prepared and waiting. The King stayed on for several days and the more he saw of Mikko the better pleased he was that he had him for a son-in-law. When he was leaving he said to Mikko: “Your castle is so much grander than mine that I hesitate ever asking you back for a visit.” But Mikko reassured the King by saying earnestly: “My dear father-in-law, when first I entered your castle I thought it was the most beautiful castle in the world!” The King was flattered and the courtiers whispered among themselves: “How affable of him to say that when he knows very well how much grander his own castle is!” When the King and his followers were safely gone, the little red Fox came to Mikko and said: “Now, my master, you have no reason to feel sad and lonely. You are lord of the most beautiful castle in the world and you have for wife a sweet and lovely Princess. You have no longer any need of me, so I am going to bid you farewell.” Mikko thanked the little Fox for all he had done and the little Fox trotted off to the woods. So you see that Mikko’s poor old father, although he had no wealth to leave his son, was really the cause of all Mikko’s good fortune, for it was he who told Mikko in the first place to carry home alive anything he might find caught in the snares.

All Aboard The Magic Train

We’re not going anywhere!

You want to take the Magic Train. That goes places!

Hei Puffles and Honey! Welcome to Santa Park!

Yes, welcome, welcome!

Everybody is busy getting ready for Christmas! We better send out our Christmas cards…

The post box is swallowing them up!

All done!

Now for some gingerbread cookies…

That’s terrible decorating! Best if we eat them right now… Hee! Hee! 🙂

Happy Birthday Isabelle!

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