Friday, April 5, 2019

Jerky Time

The warm weather at the end of February inspired me so much I spent an hour digging a path to my garden chair and removing the snow on top of the chair and table in front of it. I imagined myself having afternoon coffee in the garden in the dazzling sunshine. Who cares even if there is nothing to see in the garden? The typical weather of March returned me back to reality: one weekend we got over 40 cm of new snow.

Väinö and my garden...

The White Death

”New snow kills the old,” says a Finnish proverb. It seems that this year the winter is tough to kill. After the horrible weekend of snowing we got… another one! It started to look like the winter is here forever. Skiing centres were delighted because the season just continues. In some places, it might still be possible to ski during mother’s day in May.

Even the grill disappeared in snow again, so I had to admit myself it’s not yet time for summer activities. To ease the pain I borrowed some gardening magazines from my mother and bought some tulips. I want the colours! It has been black and white for long enough!

Reindeer Jerky

The delicacy of spirng: reindeer jerky.
There is one colour to be seen in March: red pieces of raw meat hanging outdoors from the eaves of almost every house. Drying salted reindeer meat during the springtime is traditional. We also made some jerky this year. I salted five reindeer hearts (they have excellent flavour), and Väinö wanted to have some salted beef. We have a special cage outdoors to dry this meat. The cage prevents birds and squirrels eating and stealing meat.

When I was young, my family didn’t make any jerky. I got to taste some at my classmates home and learned to like it. I remember using the first paper money I got – 50 Finnish marks which grandmother gave to me as a birthday present – to buy a piece of dried reindeer meat from a grocery store. I think I was about Väinö’s age at that time.

Sounds of Sunshine

Nature made ice swan from some years back.
I spotted this while skiing on the river ice.
The amount of daylight increases every day. And you can really feel the difference. After the vernal equinox, you start to believe they will be summer. There will be days of full sunshine. The birds have started singing again. It’s time to enjoy the light and wait for the swans to arrive.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

50 Shades of Snow

Oh, is it over already? The shortest month of the year is fast and surprising. As an entrepreneur, the beginning of a year is always a busy time. Time to start new projects, time to wrap up the old ones. I have been working a lot. Except when I have been shovelling snow.

Powder And Sleet

“Mum, I can’t open the door!” my son was yelling. He was in a hurry, the school bus would leave soon, and he has to walk one kilometre to the bus stop. I came to the hall and pushed the door (in Finland doors open outwards). It was heavy, but I managed to open it.

The storm of last night had piled 20 cm snow next to the door. We couldn’t even see the stairs under the snow. My son left wading towards the bus stop. After half an hour I heard the tractor arrive. Because we live in the middle of a forest, and not by a public road, we have to take care of the snow work ourselves. We have an agreement with a farmer from the close by village. He comes to clean the road and our yard when it’s needed. And in February, that is quite often.

In the Finnish language we have different words for snow depending on the temperature when it snows and of the size of the snowflakes. Also, the snow on the ground has many words and the snow on trees. There is a good variety of words for the snowing itself. With just one word you can tell how much it snows, what size of flakes, in which temperature and is there also wind involved. And in February we can use most of these words.

Barbeque Season

The month started with some freezing nights of -40℃. But then the weather changed, and we got warm winds. One morning the snow blanket was covered with pine needles and small branches. All the snow had fallen down from the trees, and the air smelled like spring.

We have this saying: when the forest sows needles on snow, it’s nine weeks for sowing time. Or in some areas, it predicts the time when ice melts from the river. Anyhow, based on this knowledge, at the end of April we should have less snow!

This February was surprisingly warm. On the second last week of the month, the temperature rose 30 degrees in just 24 hours. All of a sudden it was +4℃ and the sun was shining. What can you do? Seize the moment, dig the grill under the snow and start the BBQ season!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Winter Is Real

January is one of the most challenging months above the arctic circle. It is truly dark and very cold. When you wake up in the morning and it’s pitch black outside, you need to remind yourself that actually there is a little bit more daylight every day. It’s also very difficult to motivate yourself to go out when there is -30 or below. However, truly, those are the reasons why every January I feel so alive and so proud to live up here!

My boy and his friend building a snow castle. The darkness and freezing temperature are no reasons to stay indoors. In the area where we live, you can make a fire on your front yard.

Keep Your Hat On

The coldest measured temperature ever in Finland is -51,5°C, from January 1999. I remember that year. In my home village temperature was below -40 for almost a week. In that coldness, the diesel “freezes”, so that it’s very much like stiff jelly. And you really don’t want to drive, because the tires become squares. Still, people lived their everyday life.  Shops, banks and other services worked as any other day, but some buses might have been delayed. Yet, schools were open with limitation of no outdoor sports, though. I worked then as a youth worker. That was the only time when we didn’t have to remind youngsters to wear a knit cap when going out.

Goatling fur hat keeps me warm.
In really cold weather, you need good clothes, preferably out of cotton and wool - and several layers of those. It’s the air between layers that help you to stay warm. In Northern Finland, we are quite far away from the sea, so the air is dry and wind is rare. Nevertheless, breathing the really cold air hurts. You need a scarf in front of your face to warm up the air you breath. The moisture of exhaled breaths freezes instantly: to the outside of the scarf, to your eyelashes (blinking feels funny!) and to all hair that shows under our cap.

The one thing that really bothers me when I watch films or TV-series, where it’s supposed to be very cold: people often do not have any head covering. Not plausible! “The (fake) winter is coming…” 80% of your body heat evaporates through your scalp. You should really keep the hat on!

The warmest shoes, "nutukkaat". Traditionally you have dried hay in these. 

Better Than Fantasy

Do you want a post card from Lapland?
You can order this from our webstore.
See more amazing photos
of my friend @schwartzmatero.
This January we had several very cold nights when thermometer fell below -35°C. I was awake after midnight when it was a full moon. The moon was so bright! Trees were all covered with frost and snow and glittering in the moonlight. Even if I have seen these sceneries my whole life, I still stayed a long time during the night just watching our riverside. It’s more beautiful than Narnia or the kingdom of the Snow Queen: it’s real!

So, despite of relative remoteness, cold climate and oppressive darkness at hearth of winter, there are positive and beautiful things in Lapland, which is still home, after a year of touring.