Bad winter, baaad…

No permanent snow cover here in the southernmost part of Finland this winter – I guess it´s safe to say this now, at this point in time. Umm… so we already had ´the seventh snow´, ´the eighth snow´and ´the ninth snow´for this season here where I´m living. (At least these we´ve had, I may have forgotten ´one more snow´, but I can´t even count these anymore.) So a bit snow for a few days, a few centimetres of snow for two or three days, and so on… As it has been this winter. And then, again, fricking warm weather, temperatures above zero degrees Celsius, Rain… I am so fed up with this. And hey yes, it started to snow on Wednesday this week and now we have `the tenth snow´for this winter. A few centimetres of snow we Had. – It lasted until today, it´s Sunday today, and the snow is already melting.

February

The amount of snow in centimetres in Finland yesterday. Oh, the northern part of the country and Lapland

The next four pics I took here in our home village on Friday evening when we were coming back from grocery store 🙂 :

February

By the lake Pyhäjärvi. Lit by our car, hmm… Some ice… an ice cover and snow on the lake for that time…

February

On the same spot, looking up… The moon was bright again!

February

Travelling in the woods… A bumpy road.

February

Ended up in an ice rink…

February

Yesterday, my morning coffee, snowman in the middle of the oak trees…

February

This was a week ago. We have not seen this before! The leaf buds have already begun to open in the bush, in late January!

February

And our small common hazel shrub has already begun to open its leaf buds….. This Picture I took yesterday.

February

Oh yes… This was on Wednesday late in the evening. This was my third time on skis this winter. Well, it took me a while, but I finally learned :-p that, this winter, whenever there´s enough snow, I gotta go cross-country skiing, immediately, in our yard. Just go!

Eukalyptusvihta

Whoa! A eucalyptus sauna whisk, we had this for the first time last week. Usually we have Finnish birch sauna whisks, but now we wanted to try this eucalyptus (from Ukraine) whisk, because we found it for half the price in a local grocery store. And we loved it! The whisk was thick, the leaves were wonderfully long and they didn´t fall off. It was very good to hit yourself with it. And the scent when you split the leaves a bit and crush them in your hands is lovely. A nice and a rather exotic experience. 🙂

January

In these pictures… I believe this was our ´seventh´snow, in January this was. Well, this winter it does not matter what day it was or is now…

January

The last three pics I took today:

I started watching cross-country skiing again… Either watching cross-country skiing or dreaming of doing it…? :p

February

Green edibles growing in the kitchen.

  • Leena

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
———————————————————

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

Bats seen here, new garden potato field, apple tree flower buds…

It’s been pretty summery now. But still no rain here where we are living – the rain that the garden and nature need now… They say that this afternoon it will rain here… *waiting*. 🙂 It’s now light green around out there everywhere as everything is growing, and in many places some bushes and trees are loaded with white flowers, for example bird cherry trees are in flower now, lovely scent…

making potato field

This was my project on Thursday and Friday evenings last week; I made a new potato field in our garden. I dug it through the lawn, so to speak, using that garden hoe in the picture. The hoe is my favourite gardening tool, it’s so useful and comfortable to use! And I also used a shovel and, naturally, my bare hands – my bare hands are my other favourite gardening tools – I never use gardening gloves, they are only in the way, a disturbance, and I want to and need to feel the earth in my hands – I’ve gone crazy in that way… 😉 It’s earthing… Body, mind, spirit…

So I dug the new potato field all by myself, one part of the field was already ready; it was our strawberry field before – luckily, because it was hard work that digging. I also had some… theoretical help… ‘someman‘ was helping me to measure the size of the field and telling me where to put the seed potatoes. And when I was taking a short break, drinking some water inside the house, someone who had just gone outside offered me some practical help – this is what I found when I came back outside and to the potato field:

"No, you should do it like this!"

“No, you should do it like this!” – ‘somemeow‘ had moved some seed potatoes that were already placed on the soil, evenly spaced… 🙂

When the potato field was ready on Friday, late in the evening, it was time to go to sauna, with the first fresh birch leaves for this spring or summer… some more earthing… I wrote about sauna earthing already last year, here.
This year the birch leaves are still tiny, because the spring was so slow, but they are so wonderfully fresh and sticky, and naturally, the scent is heavenly. I took again a real bath with the birch leaves: I rubbed the leaves against my skin, buried my face into the leaves, hit myself with the twigs… Stay closer to nature, feel closer to nature, be a bit witchy! 😉

narcissus, daffodil

This year we seem to have only four narcissus or daffodil flowers – leaves of this plant we have in all the spots that we have narcissus plants in the garden, but only four flowers, two in one spot and two in another spot. They, too, are late, but they are here…

We’ve heard the calls of cuckoo bird somewhere near here every day now.

On Sunday, after 23.30 PM, when we were having a campfire in our garden, we had some visitors – bats! Three bats! It was a big surprise. We’ve seen bats before, but not here in our garden and not so close. It was the first warmer night with more mosquitoes here this year. All of a sudden the bats dashed and flapped into the woods beside our garden and into our garden as well, they flew all around here; into our garden, back into the woods, back into our garden… This continued for some time. And they flew also close above our heads every time they flapped into our garden. So close, and they were so cute! 🙂 I thought that bats avoid people, but no, they don’t… It was amazing! – I’ve hoped that we would see bats here in our land, and now we now that it can happen…

apple tree flower buds

The apple trees have small flower buds now. They are late as well. A year ago the flowering had already ended!

-Leena

Leaves coming out

I took all the pictures today. First some birch leaves that are growing inside the house now. I wrote about my birch twigs in the previous blog post .

birch leaves

Pure green. Pure love.

birch leaves

And the happymins! 🙂 And naturally I already tasted one of the tiny leaves… it tasted so fresh, so green, so lovely…

birch leaves

This is so inspirational, too…

rhubarb

Yesterday we noticed that rhubarb is coming through again. 🙂

Coming through!

And these, too. We have no idea what these are… They grow in a place where we put some of the leftovers in our garden – leaves after raking them and some ‘surplus soil’ when we are digging somewhere in our garden and we have to remove some land. Hmm…

lilac

Some of the leaves of the lilac bushes have almost started to come out as well. Already in the winter I noticed that the buds were very swollen! I was almost a bit worried about that. 🙂 But yes, this bush is in a really sunny spot all year round.

-Leena