Nordic Walking - Experiencing The Nature In Finland
A Short History Behind Nordic Walking
In the 1990's when Finnish cross-country skiers were training in the summer without skis, they instead walked with poles just like they were skiing. Because of doing this exercise, a new type of walking was invented in Finland in 1997. It was called Nordic Walking.
Nordic walking is very effective and burns almost twice as much calories as normal walking without poles. In Finland Nordic Walking is very popular.
I've been thinking about writing this hub for a long time. I think it's a really interesting subject and it's a good opportunity for me to share another piece of Finland with you. Somehow I find it very difficult to write about Nordic walking. This hub is a result of two hubs that I combined.
I've been exercising Nordic walking myself and I feel like I should start doing it again on a regular basis. What I need is a kick in my butt to get started. Maybe this hub can get my lazy body away from my computer and out on the roads walking with my poles.
So, here we go, after this rumbling start. Prepare for a different story with some more rumbling. Don't take this too serious.
About Mons Kallentoft And His Books
On Mons Kallentoft's homepage you can find this information about the books he has written:
”In 2007, Midvinterblod (Midwinter Sacrifice) - his fourth novel and first venture into crime fiction - was published to great acclaim and quickly became one of the bestselling books in Sweden. His second book about police inspector Malin Fors, Sommardöden (Summertime Death) was published in May 2008 and was followed by Höstoffer (Autumn Sonata) in May 2009, and Vårlik (Spring Remains) in May 2010. The fifth book about Malin Fors was published in June 2011 and is called Den femte årstiden (The fifth season).
In 2011 Midvinterblod was translated into english (UK and Australia). The Malin Fors crime novels are now translated into more than 15 languages, but the rights are sold to even more countries.”
A Typical Finnish Summer Night
It was this typical Finnish summer night. Everyone except me had fallen to sleep. It was late. I was a little tired but longed for that fresh air outside.
It had been raining a couple of times earlier during the day. Now the sun was shining behind the clouds. I looked in the mirror, yawned and thought to myself: ”It would be so nice to just brush the teeth and lay down in my bed with the great book I had recently started reading”. This book is written by one of my favourite authors, a Swede named Mons Kallentoft. He's a crime writer with the ability to touch his readers in a way I only can admire. It's raw and beautiful at the same time. Right now I'm reading his book called ”The fifth season”.
I looked in the mirror once again and said to myself: ”I really want to enjoy that fresh air and take a walk with my walking poles”.
Walking with poles is something I've done before, but it was a long time ago. With two small children I have been walking with our stroller or twin stroller. Now that the children are bigger, I can enjoy my walks alone. It's a new life for the philosopher in me. I can wander around with my poles and thoughts all nights long if I'd like to.
I put on the right clothes and shoes and took my poles. The poles are old, but they still do their job. After all, they are just a couple of poles, used to walk with.
Pickin Berries Is A Benefit We Have
What a benefit it is to step out on the doorstep and you just need to take a couple of steps - and there you have all kinds of wild berries growing. I pick berries every year. It's something I grew up with. We have blueberries, lingonberries, rasberries and some berries called bog whortleberries or northern bilberry. Thesa last are not very common, but they grow on our backyard. Some of the finest wild berries are cloudberries. They taste like heaven. It's hard to find them nowadays.
Enjoying The Nature
One of the things I love most in life, is to be out in the nature, enjoying everything around me. Even mosquitoes can be fascinating. If someone feels they have a lack of mosquitoes, we have plenty here. Just come and get them! They are here from May to September. After that the snow season starts. I'm very generous giving away snow too. You can come and get some of that if you live in a place were there is no snow. You can practice some typical Finnish cross country skiing on your snow and learn how to use poles. That will prepare you for an adventure of Nordic walking.
This night, I went out and closed the door behind me. I didn't lock it.”Who on earth would come to this place were I live that late in the evening?”, I thought, and I don't think anybody did. As I stood on the doorstep, I took a deep breath and started walking with one pole in my left hand and on in my right. Every time I put the poles in my hands, I'm reminded of the fact that they are old. The real poles for Nordic walking have one pole for the left hand and one for the right just so you get the right grip. ”Who cares”, I thought. ”I won't meet anyone out on the roads looking at my ancient walking poles this time of the day ... or night”. Happily I started walking. And I didn't meet one single person walking, jogging or on a bike. I was alone with only the sounds from nature and that inner voice telling me how good life is. Right here. Right now.
The sun had not set yet even if it was late. I chose to walk on a road that has no traffic. It's a private road in the woods leading to a road with traffic. I felt that I had to be alone with the nature for a little while. I had only been walking for a couple of minutes, when I saw the rainbow with all its beautiful colors. First I saw the right side and then the left side. In the middle, the rainbow was broken by pink clouds floating on a blue sky. This was amazing. The only thing distracting me as I walked and looked up to the beautiful sky, was a bird that scared me when it flew up from the ground just beside me.
Birds often do that if they are on the ground and get scared. I wish I could be able to tell them not to scare me back just because I scared them. every time I try talking to birds, but they don't seem to understand me. They are very ignoring. Except for one time when a swan bit me in the toe because of jealousy. That story could be a totally different hub called ”How To Avoid Swans From Biting You In Your Big Toe”.
Bright Nights And Wool Socks
It was after 10 p.m. in the evening when I had went out for this walk.
Now in July the sun sets around 11 p.m. And rises around 4 a.m. where I live. In June the sun is down for only two ours. This is why I love these Finnish summer nights. They are bright and they never seem to end. It's very enjoyable. That's how I always remember them, the summer nights from the past.That's how the summer nights always used to be, isn't it? Or maybe my memory is playing a trick with me.
The reality can be cruel when you realise that you should not have washed all your winter clothes and put them somewhere safe until the winter comes again. Sometimes you should need more that one pair of pants and a warm jacket in the middle of the summer – especially if you're sitting outside in the middle of the night. In some rare cases it can be warm during all night. I don't think that has happened this summer. It has been an extremely cold summer and it has been raining more than any summer before in some places of the country. Where I live, we have had better luck and not too much rain. Yet I haven't experienced one single day with a heat you can't stand. Sometimes we can have that, when the heat comes from Russia.
This summer the wind has been blowing straight from the North Pole and straight on my skin that hasn't been covered with warm clothes – after all, it's summer. Why dress like it would be winter. Wait a minute, why not? The result has been a body filled with goosebumps. My brother sometimes says: ”If your head is stupid, your body will suffer”. In this case that wound mean I'm stupid all the times I choose to wear summer clothes just because it says summer in the calendar.
In Finland you can never wear too much clothes. I'm not going to mention how we dress in the winter. It would take too much space here and too much of the readers time because of all the layers with clothes. In the evenings I have put on my wool socks even during summertime. I may have become wiser as I have gotten older. I actually wear one pair of wool socks as I'm writing this. My aunt always gives me one pair at Christmas and one pair on my birthday. I'm glad my aunt cares for my frozen feet. What would I do without her? I have at least fifteen pairs of wool socks and I couldn't live a day without them. And I'm not kidding here. I wear two pairs on the same time in the winter. There's not room for them in my shoes, but I bought really super warm shoes last fall and they were wonderful to my cold feet when it was freezing outside the past winter. Yes, I'm a person who seems to be freezing all the time. I wonder why I was born in this country. But do you know what? I'm really happy to be living in this country.
There are many small companies around here. The unemployment is below three percent. One of the companies I passed on my way, as I was walking, is a company that builds boats. They also make different kind of spas and these houses you can see on the photo above. This round house has a ground floor you can use as a sauna or storage. It's up to you what you do with it. On the second floor you can sit and relax and enjoy some good food or just hang out with some nice people. As a Finn, you wouldn't think of having anything else than a sauna downstairs. Finland - the country of saunas.
Freedom And A Car Accident
I have to tell you, it was wonderful this night, even if I didn't touch the rainbow this time either. I always imagined doing that. And speaking of imagination; I love to set my thoughts free when I'm out walking alone surrounded by trees, birds and a beautiful sky. I love the feeling of thinking of everything and nothing. That is freedom. During this walk I got so many ideas for hubs I want to write. I wish I had the time to put my plans in action. I even started to think in English. That was probably not caused by the walk, but rather the fact that I have spent too much time on HubPages. Wait a minute. Is that even possible?
When I had been walking for a while, I came to the road with traffic. Well, I saw one car on that road in five minutes as I walked there before I turned left to walk on a smaller road again. This is the countryside in Finland. There are not too many cars driving around late at night. I passed a place where there had been a car accident a couple of days before. Imagine that – hardly no traffic, but a car accident. The road was straight where it had happened and one car with one single driver had somehow landed upside down with her car. I read in the newspaper that she wasn't drunk, but even if the car was upside down, the female driver tried to get in the car and start it. The police suspected she was high on some mediation or drugs. It's scary to know how many times I have been walking where this accident happened. I'm glad I wasn't walking there when she came driving that day. It's pretty rare that car accidents happen on a straight road in the middle of a summer day. It did this time and I heard the ambulance coming for the second time this day. That is something that's rare too. Hey, this is the countryside in Finland. Nothing ever happens here.
Where The Moose Are Being Butchered
I continued walking with my poles and came to this house where the moose are being butchered during moose hunting season. As a little girl I used to go here with my dad at nights to see how many moose they had been shooting that day. The moose were hanging from the sealing and the men from the moose hunting team were cutting these big creatures into smaller pieces. The floor was drenched with blood. As a little girl I never really reflected over this. It was all natural to me. I enjoyed spending time with my dad. When we went here he always used to ask me if I want to come with him when he's going to see if they have been catching any fish today. Lol! Fish was his word for moose. I love my dad's sense of humour. Wherever my dad went, I went. I was daddy's girl.
This Bin Is For Clean Recycling Paper
Right after I had passed the moose butcher house, I came to a place where you can go throwing garbage. This is garbage like bigger things you don't need anymore. This is a type of garbage station. It's open one day every week. This is the countryside in Finland. If you are in a hurry throwing away things you need to drive to the nearest town, where this type of station is open every day – probably not on weekends, but probably five days a week.
In Finland we are very aware of recycling and it's very important where you throw your garbage. In every household we always have one black plastic bag for ”wet garbage” and one white plastic bag for ”dry garbage”. In the black bag you can throw things like old food and diapers. In the white you can throw packages made from paper and plastic, but also fabric. At my work where we use plastic glows, we throw them in green bags. You'd better not be color blind id you want to handle garbage the right way here in Finland.
When you go shopping groceries, you can buy plastic bags that are white on the outside to put your groceries in. When you reuse them as garbage bags, you can turn them inside out if you need a black bag for wet garbage. They are black on the inside. Black bags can only be black, but white bags can be some other color and have text on them. If you for example have a yellow bag with a red text on it, it counts like a white garbage bag. Black garbage bags can't be anything else than black.
You can't throw glass, cans or bottles in a black or white bag. Next to the grocery stores you will find places where you can throw glass bottles and jars, cans, batteries and paper and old newspapers. Cans and bottles that can be reused are taken to the store and you put them in holes in machines. Then you'll get a receipt that shows how much money you get for them. You show your receipt at the checkout and get your money. The money you get for returning bottles to the grocery store varies. A big bottle of lemonade costs around 2,50 Euro and you get 40 cents in return for one empty bottle.
That was small parenthesis about how we recycle things in Finland. Like you would ever need it!
About Nordic Walking
Cross-country skiing is popular in Finland and in the Nordic countries. Some children hardly learn to walk before their parents put skis on their feet and poles in their hands. I'm not even kidding. In Finland children are skiing already in daycare. Everybody owns a pair of skiis, just like everybody owns a pair of Nordic walking poles.
I can't really remember when I bought my walking poles, but it's years ago. The poles have changed during the years and I'm sure I would feel more motivated with a new pair of poles and good shoes. That's probably all you need to get started. And there's this old Swedish saying ”There are no bad weather, just bad clothes”. That means with the right type of clothes, there's never an excuse to not go out even if it would rain nails.
I guess in the US there isn't very usual to go out for a walk. Here in the Nordic countries people do it several times a week. Walking is the easiest type of exercise. Walking, walking with poles, running, skiing with in-line skates with or without poles and riding a bike is what you see people do on the roads here in Finland.
After passing this recycle station I continued walking. The clouds where moving fast on the sky. A mosquito bit me, I met a car – the second of three cars I saw during this one hour walk. Right at this place where I was walking, watching the sky, I felt so good. I now came to the soccer field where I spent much time as a little girl. I used to go there with my older brother to play soccer. Now I'm here once a week with my own son, when he goes to his soccer practice.
With only five minutes left of my walk, I passed my parents' house. I saw they where still awake. I took a deep breath and thought to myself: ”I wish everyone could be able to feel this satisfaction I feel right now”.
This walk may have resulted in an awkward dream I had the following night. I'm not sure. My imagination is always running wild. Sometimes I wish I could lock it all up and throw away the keys. That would put an end to my dreams both night and day and I could concentrate on the reality for a while. How about that? I would write hubs that aren't out of line like this one.
I'm not sure what the message with this hub is. It was just a little experiment to see what it would be like writing straight from the heart combined with a half finished hub about Nordic walking.
Just one last thing:
Do things you love! It will give you a satisfaction that is beyond your imagination.
Nature In Finland
More by this Author
What are you doing when the weather outside is getting too cold? When you can spend just five minutes outside and feel that you can't stand it anymore becuase of the freezing temperature, it's time to go inside, stay...
There are many creatures in Scandinavian folklore. I have met some of them in an outdoor exhibtion. I'm sure you wouldn't like to meet "Raamt".
Finland is a small country in northern Europe. I thought you should know about these facts if you ever come to visit Finland.