I went back to the railway station in Heinävesi the other day. I had to take the 16:45 train to Pietsämäki.
We arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare. We decided to have our lunch there and enjoyed a spinach pancake while gazing at the tracks. I couldn’t help but imagine the old trains that had stopped at this station over the years. The station itself was constructed in 1940.
In my mind, I pictured steam engines pulling wooden passenger carriages. There were three classes with varying levels of comfort. The third class was always the most crowded.
After lunch, I took a walk with our dog. Walked over the tracks to look at the logs and gravel that had been brought here, possibly for track renovations.
From the opposite side of the tracks, the station looked like a simple and practical building that has endured countless winters and summers for 83 years, remaining in good condition.
At 16:20, other passengers began to arrive. They were dropped off by their relatives in cars. I stood near the stairs leading to the main entrance when an elderly woman approached me but hesitated. She seemed uncertain whether I could understand or speak Finnish, as I appeared to be a foreigner.
I greeted her with ‘terve,’ and she visibly relaxed, taking a few more steps towards me. She greeted me in return. I invited her to enter and explore the interior by saying, ‘tulee ja katso sisällä.’ Although my sentence wasn’t entirely correct, she understood my meaning. She climbed the three steps and entered what used to be the passengers’ waiting room. Her gaze wandered, I imagined, lost in memories.
She told me that she was recalling her younger days when she used to catch the train from here. She remembered buying her train ticket from the glass counter on the side of the room, gesturing towards it as if she could see herself as a young girl, requesting a return ticket from the station master.
She then turned towards the other side of the room and opened a door, revealing the furniture we had placed there. She turned to me and said, ‘tämä oli ennen postitoimisto’—this used to be the post office.
Suddenly, a whistle blew, signaling the approach of the train to Pietsämäki. It took her memories away and we walked down tot he tracks. The usual two carriages. It was midweek and so it was not very full.
I boarded the train, and the doors closed. As the train pulled away, the station building disappeared from my sight, back to the quiet embrace of the forest surrounding it.