Two postcards from the Åland Islands (9/90)

Dear Mike,

Fred is the word for “peace” in Swedish, but it really ought to be Åland, the name of these beguiling islands lying between Finland and Sweden. Åland was declared a demilitarized zone by Russia in 1856, after its forces had been blasted out of the water by an Anglo-French expedition during the Crimean War, a status that was given international sanction in 1921 after the League of Nations gave Åland to Finland — over the protests of the inhabitants who wanted to be repatriated with Sweden, which owned the archipelago prior to 1809. Now the Ålanders are content with their self-governing, demilitarized status, which frees their men from having to serve in the Finnish armed forces, (a cause of some resentment on the mainland), and makes this place a natural setting for meditating on the future of the world. Just to give you an example of what kind of effect this place can have on you, last night, I had the strangest dream…I dreamed that Carol Serling surrendered!

Peace baby,
Agent Sander

P.S. And now onto the summit. I wonder, what should I ask Gorbachev?
P.P.S. Belated thanks for your recommendations. Yes, I got into CUNY Casa. (Special student, explain later.)
P.P.P.S. Yes, Serling is finished, and it came out well. Tentatively scheduled for publication by Dutton in Fall ’91.

Dear Jeff,

DOs & DON’Ts of Ålands:

1. Rent a bicycle; it’s really the best way to experience this out-of-this-world archipelago.
2. Try the local herring.
3. Also the pancakes.
4. Visit the Nautical Museum, which contains one of the finest collections of nautical art I have ever seen.

1. Say you’ve never heard of Åland (even if you haven’t).
2. Come tanned. You may be mistaken for a gypsy and manhandled by blotto Ålanders at the Club Arkipelag (the place to go hereabouts).
3. Say: “So what’s the point of having your own flag and stamps if you can’t have your own army and navy?” (Finland handles defence and foreign policy for this autonomous, demilitarized province.)
4. Buy anything.

…And now, onto the Summit!


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