Gone cross-country skiing [in Kuusamo earlier this week]

It’s been like summer here in Finland this week. Especially here in the southern part of the country it’s been warm for a bit over a week now. The temperatures have been between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius during the day. The sun’s been shining, grass is already green, the trees are growing leaves – everything is growing, everything is green… and there’s more flowers and butterflies. The scent of summer is in the air and we can already eat some herbs from the garden as well.

But I started off this week by going backwards in time, so to speak. – I travelled to Kuusamo in Koillismaa region in northern Finland, just below Lapland. This time it took 10 hours and 30 minutes to travel there by car through the western and middle parts of Finland, and during all that time I saw how the spring advanced… backwards and in the wrong direction. But that was just nice for a bit adventurous soul. 😀

We (me and my dad) arrived in Kuusamo late in the evening on Sunday a week ago, spent Monday and Tuesday there, and travelled back home again on Wednesday. After that it’s already been warmer there in Kuusamo, too, around 20 degrees Celsius, but here, in this blog post now, is one of the last opportunities to talk about cross-country skiing in Kuusamo this spring…

And in Kuusamo the roads and many other places already were free of snow and ice, spring was already there in that way – the snow had already almost mostly melted, almost… Well, there still were heaps of snow here and there, still melting and in the forests there still was snow, here and there. And the lakes were not free of ice.

cross-country skiing

So, into the woods I went. My very own cross-country skiing equipment waited for me at the cabin.

cross-country skiing

Kuusamo

In the woods, by the lake.

Kuusamo

I saw two swans flying and honking over the lake for a couple of times. I also saw an otter, an Eurasian otter that is, swimming in the ice-free water by the woods. I’ve seen that type of an animal swimming there before, too, a few years ago. 🙂

Kuusamo

And owls… I think I heard an owl calling! When I first heard the voice I immediately thought something along the lines of “this really might be an owl, there’s possibly something so specific in the voice… is it…?” I heard the voice every evening there, over and over again. Well, here, at home where my computer waited for me, I did some research and it truly might have been the voice of a northern hawk owl. I didn’t see the bird in the woods, but I might also have seen an owl flying when I was travelling in the car from the cabin towards the town centre. I saw the bird pretty well, and there was just something so specific… Or perhaps I’ve finally gone nuts. 😀 Well, nice experiences they were, even though I can’t be 100% sure… But learning new things all the time!

Kuusamo

The tracks of a reindeer on the left, my tracks on the right. We went for a walk in the woods together… Well, no, not together, I didn’t see reindeer by the cabin. But we saw many reindeer by the road when we were travelling to Kuusamo. I called them ‘Santa’s reindeer’, because they had winter coat. And before the reindeer I saw a moose standing in a forest.

And when we were travelling back home, about 11 hours through the middle and western parts of Finland, the spring advanced again in the right way, so to speak. And here at home it was like summer already! – At first all the green that had emerged while I was away really felt strange. Stranger than falling into the snow in the north. Nice and delightful, simple adventures everywhere. 🙂

-Leena

Two and a half weeks in Eastern Finland

I spent two and a half weeks in Eastern Finland, in the municipality of Rautavaara in the region of Northern Savonia, in August and in September. It’s my boyfriend’s home region and I was travelling with him and our two cats. His family has an old house there in Rautavaara, no one lives in the house anymore, it’s just for summertime visits nowadays, and that’s the place we stayed as well. It’s always about an eight hour’s drive from our home to Rautavaara, and the same back of course. – Always worth the travel.

I didn’t take pictures of, like, everything, but naturally I did ‘get caught up in some things’, and the result is this blog post here now. 🙂 I also took some pictures for our, mine and Owlnature‘s, Instagram (owlnatureleena), and the real Instagram widget has, by the way, (finally :p ) been on the sidebar of my blog for some time now as well.

lake Keyritty

By the lake Keyritty, just outside the centre of Rautavaara. It was a summery day. So calm, beautiful… just stunning! And it was completely silent here and everywhere we went. 🙂

lake Keyritty

dragonfly

There were many dragonflies flying and enjoying the sunshine by the house on many days. Here’s two of them.

dragonfly

Tiilikanselkä

By another lake on some other day. This is called Tiilikanselkä.

There are actual creeks in the forest, I’m not sure if this is one of them, or is this just some ditch…? Beautiful water areas in the forests, too, anyway.

monkshood in forest

I went mushroom hunting and all I could find was poisonous monkshood. ;p In this one forest I found monkshood in the wild for the first time.

monkshood in forest

monkshood in forest

boletus edulis, penny bun

But we did find a lot of mushrooms, too, during our trip. Here’s one penny bun mushroom or cep or porcino/porcini or boletus edulis mushroom…

craterellus (or cantharellus) tubaeformis, yellowfoot, winter mushroom

And here’s our biggest amount of yellowfoot mushrooms or winter mushrooms or funnel chanterelles or cantharellus/craterellus tubaeformis mushrooms…

In addition to cooking with mushrooms we enjoyed bilberries (or blueberries), lingonberries and crowberries in the forests.

Another lake again. I was on a ridge. There are lakes on either side of the ridge. And there are many ridges in Rautavaara area, fairly small, beautiful… with lakes, forests and swamps.

creek

A creek in the forest, so clear you can see the bottom.

creek

Tiilikanselkä

By Tiilikanselkä again, we went there actually three times during our trip. 🙂

river flows

And river flows…

river flows...

…and flows. Until next time. 🙂

-Leena

At the cabin in Kuusamo II

Now the second blog post about my trip to Kuusamo. The first one can be found here. I’ve visited Kuusamo and our cabin there ever since my childhood. This time I travelled with my dad. Cabin or cottage is called mökki in Finnish. Mökki is a highly important thing for many many Finns. Often the mökkis are somewhat modest. We, for example, have no running water there.

The first 22 pictures in this blog post I took at our cabin, the last four pictures I took on the way back home.

blue fleabane

Blue fleabane or bitter fleabane is growing wild beside the cabin. In fact, our cabin yard is the only place where I’ve seen these flowers so far. 🙂

blue fleabane

beard lichen, beard moss

Beard lichen or beard moss again.

red moss

Red moss. I’ve seen red moss in two spots in the cabin woods so far.

red moss

arctic bramble, arctic raspberry

There were some arctic bramble or arctic raspberry flowers in the woods as well.

creek, trees

By the creek again.

And… welcome to the woods:

trees

trees

trees

trees

cup lichen

Cup lichen, right in front of the cabin. Cup lichen is called torvijäkälä in Finnish, literally: horn lichen. So in Finnish we don’t see them as cups, but as horns, the musical instruments. 🙂

an old shed

An old shed.

dwarf cornel, bunchberry, Swedish cornel, Lapland cornel, Eurasian dwarf cornel

Dwarf cornel or bunchberry or Swedish cornel or Lapland cornel or Eurasian dwarf cornel flowering by the creek.

I was attacked by mosquitoes when I took this pic, because it was already late in the evening then. There’s a lot of mosquitoes there in the north in summertime, at our cabin, for example, especially late in the evening and in the woods. Mosquitoes in Finland are not dangerous, just a nuisance. 🙂

tree

A trEEe…

wood cranesbill, woodland geranium

Wood cranesbill or woodland geranium was flowering now there in the north. We have a lot of wood cranesbill beside the cabin road…

wood cranesbill, woodland geranium

…and in different colours as well…

wood cranesbill, woodland geranium

…and by the creek, too.

a throne in the woods

A throne in the woods. You can imagine how delighted I was to find this in the woods some years ago. 😉 This nature’s sculpture endures the northern winters there really well. It must have been there for ages.

trees, lake

At peace.

common blue

A common blue butterfly. We were both regularly there beside the cabin. 🙂 The colour of the butterfly was marvellous…

common blue

The underside of the butterfly wing.

reindeer

Reindeer on the road on our way southward. There was lots of reindeer there on the road in many places, here’s just a couple of pics. One has to be very careful when driving there in the north. – Reindeer live the slow life there. 😉

reindeer

The Silent People

Hiljainen kansa, The Silent People in Suomussalmi, in Kainuu region, about a two-hour drive south from Kuusamo. A nice and atmospheric place to stop by and take a rest. The Silent People is the creation of local artist Reijo Kela. And the clothes are changed twice a year; summer clothes and winter clothes. There’s a Field Café, too. And during the summer months they make there crispy-edged crêpes on open fire and campfire coffee as well.

The Silent People

People often ask what precisely is the idea behind the Silent People. A state of psychological withdrawal? The mute Kainuu soul? A forgotten people? Reijo Kela refuses to provide any answer. Viewers are free to come to their own conclusions. It may, however, be of interest to learn that if the Silent People were to be completely undressed there would remain some one thousand wooden crosses standing in the field.” -The Silent People -leaflet & suomussalmi.fi
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And yes, I’m already longing for the cabin again! 🙂

-Leena

At the cabin in Kuusamo I

I travelled to our (my parents’) cabin last week. The cabin is located in Kuusamo, in Koillismaa region in northern Finland. It is, naturally, one of my favourite places on earth. It took 12 hours and 10 minutes to travel there by car through the western and middle parts of Finland, and 11 hours to travel back home through the eastern and middle parts of Finland. – It’s always a long journey. But truly worth the travel! 🙂

I have pictures for two blog posts. I took all the pictures in this blog post at our cabin, in the woods, by the lake.

chickweed wintergreen, arctic starflower

The stars were still on the ground there in the north! – Chickweed wintergreen flower or arctic starflower flower. These flowered already a month ago in our home woods here in the south. It was so nice to see these flowers again, for the second time this year! 🙂

And lilacs were also flowering there! – It was very nice indeed to travel there in the town and to look out of the car window, and admire the bushes for the second time this summer…

The nights naturally were lighter up there in the north as well. Today, for example, the length of the day is 17 hours and 2 minutes here where I’m living and in Kuusamo it is 18 hours and 33 minutes.

reindeer

Northern Finland. – The land of reindeer, too! Reindeer is a regular visitor in our cabin woods as well. Or actually, the animals live there and I’m the one visiting our cabin. ;D This guy came back many times during the daytime there.

reindeer

Heeere we go!

reindeer

See you!

See you!

by the lake, in the woods

The days were warm up there during my visit, around 20 degrees Celsius and a bit above.

Black-throated diver or arctic loon was calling there on the lake. The voice is just haunting: “Kwee-kow, kwee-kow, kwee-kow…!” – very far-carrying and wonderful! And, like, moving… it makes you feel that you are somewhere special. The voice of the clear lakeland. 🙂

trees

Some of the tall and old trees in the cabin woods… And the scent of labrador tea or wild rosemary was very intense and lovely…

trees

creek, trees

There’s also a creek flowing. In our woods, like here in the picture above, the flowing of the creek is very slow, but the sound of the fast flowing of the creek can actually be heard, and it can be heard really well, in our cabin yard. Two years ago I went and searched the source of the sound with my boyfriend, and we managed to find it – some parts of it – the woods and the land there were really bushy. 🙂

beard lichen, beard moss

Beard lichen or beard moss in the trees means that the air is clean! We, too, have a lot of it everywhere in the cabin woods.

beard lichen, beard moss

cloudberry

A treasure – a cloudberry, still unripe – too bad. 🙂 The gold in the forests – cloudberries – are valuable delicacies. We would have some ripening in our cabin woods right now… buuut I’m here at home now…

The second blog post about my visit to Kuusamo coming a bit later.

-Leena

The cold fun Eastern Finland in January

Now the second blog post about our wintry trip to Metsäkartano Youth and Wilderness Centre in the municipality of Rautavaara, in the region of Northern Savonia in the Eastern Finland in mid-January. The first blog post can be found here.

peat hut

This is a peat hut. It is one of the best places to go and light a campfire when it is about minus 30 degrees Celsius outside. Kind of under earth the peat hut is. We went there skiing one evening. A campfire is so vital at those kind of temperatures.

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Outside our holiday apartment again.

The silence is something so special at Metsäkartano, the place is surrounded by wilderness. When you are completely silent and still yourself, you can’t hear absolutely anything. Occasionally just the twinkle of the falling snow on the pine trees and spruces. So peaceful and relaxing. Nature really loves you.

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On the frozen lake. On the left can be seen the main building of Metsäkartano, in the middle is our holiday house and on the left another holiday house.

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Metsäkartano has the EU Eco-label, it was the first travel resort to get it in Finland. The place is also very international with its both aspects – youth work and nature travel.

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This sight made me even happier. A circle of joy made by a peppy dog. 🙂 I can like see the brisk dog coming galloping and making the circle there and continuing his way forward.

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Frozen marsh Labrador tea or northern Labrador tea or wild rosemary. It still had the lovely and original scent, I tested.

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The best colours through my camera this winter. 🙂

So this was our winter trip. Now still waiting the spring to actually come here in Finland, there’s still quite a lot of snow on the ground here in southwestern Finland, too.

-Leena

It was cold, cold ,cold, in the Eastern Finland, in January

With this post we’ll go back to mid-January. We were on holiday at Metsäkartano Youth and Wilderness Centre in the municipality of Rautavaara, in the region of Northern Savonia in the Eastern Finland. We stayed there for a week. I have photo glimpses for two blog posts, so here’s the first one.

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This was my morning coffee view in our holiday apartment. Loved it! 🙂 A view with woods and a frozen lake to be seen behind it. The name of the lake is Ylä-Keyritty.

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This is the same view, but from the terrace of the apartment.

It’s about an eight hour’s drive from our home in Satakunta to Metsäkartano, but it’s really worth the drive. We had been at Metsäkartano once before, two years ago. In fact, we stayed in the same holiday apartment then, too. The municipality of Rautavaara itself we visit every year, especially in the summertime, because my boyfriend’s family has a summer place there.

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This is the house we stayed in. There are three holiday apartments in this house, our apartment was in the middle – you can see smoke coming out of our chimney there. We were the only ones in the house at that time. 🙂

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Here’s the front door of our apartment. The name of the apartment is VadelmaRaspberry in English (by the way metsäforest and kartanoestate or mansion). There are also our skis – we were cross-country skiing there, at the temperatures of minus 25 to minus 30 degrees Celsius. I love skiing! We would have gone skiing even more there, but it really was a bit too cold to enjoy it that much. 😀

The temperatures never rose above minus 25 degrees Celsius In Rautavaara at that time. Mostly it was close to minus 30 degrees Celsius, but even more in the night-time. The record was (it also was a record in Finland at that night) minus 38 degrees Celsius. At that night we went to sauna and came outside to this front door from there to cool down a bit. It was an experience! I had never been in such cold temperatures before. The whole trip was such an experience…

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This is the main building of Metsäkartano seen when standing in front of our holiday home. I love the old-style wooden fence.

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The living room of our apartment.

There’s different kinds of accommodation options at Metsäkartano, we stayed in an apartment which has two floors and at least six beds in total. The apartment is spacious but cosy, with a fully equipped open kitchen and a living room with a heat-storing fireplace.

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The kitchen. I took the photo so that our dishes and rubbish can’t be seen on the other side of the kitchen. :p But there’s also a nice dishwasher in the kitchen!

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This is a part of the ceiling in the sauna in the apartment. A lovely starry ceiling! 🙂 And the sauna has a wood-burning stove. I love wood-heated saunas, they are so atmospheric.

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Our cats were also travelling with us. It’s possible to take your pets into many of the holiday apartments at Metsäkartano, but there’s also an apartment suitable for people who are allergic to furry animals. Our cats already are experienced travellers – they are accustomed to sleeping in the car.

My second blog post about our trip will have more photos and feelings taken outdoors. 🙂

-Leena