- Travel and Places
Experiences From A Finnish Winter
The Pleasures & Perils Of Walking On Water!
I like that I can take a long circular walk in the winter by returning home over the lake. Walking on water every winter is an amazing experience which helps me shake off old thought patterns of old and rigid realities. Sometimes when it's been snowing a lot the weight of the snow creates downward pressure on the ice which consequently creates new flows and currents in the water below the ice. These new currents stir up slightly warmer water from the bottom to the top in a spiral which creates a small hole in the ice and the lake water bubbles out over the top of the ice. When this happens I seek out my old path created by the compacted snow of my footsteps in order for me to get home without wet feet! The compacted snow from my regular walks creates a solid bridge atop the ice, hopefully higher than the depth of lake water sitting on top of the ice!
Last winter we had a lot of snow and when I lost the path I found myself in water past the top of my boots!
It also takes some experiential mind training to not be panicked by your foot going through the surface into water when you know that you are walking on a frozen lake! Another unique experience to give my body some slightly different world views!
Of course sometimes the wind blows and the snow drifts neatly filling in my footsteps and obscuring my well trodden path. Then I need to look carefully and recognise the subtle differences in the snow patterns signifying where I will find my compacted path and thus keep my feet dry!
The Pleasures & Perils Of Walking In The Dark
When walking in the dark Finns usually have some kind of reflector on their clothes so that drivers can spot them more easily in the dark. I don't always have anything with me when I go walking in the early dark mornings with my dog but I feel safe so long as I remember that the person driving towards me cannot see me and I make myself responsible for my safety. This strategy had worked well for years but twice before I've found flaws in my plan!
The first time there was a forest machine collecting logs. These machines are really huge with powerful lights over them and massive wheels taller than me covered in chains to assist them driving right through the forest collecting felled timber. Normally I step off the road when something is coming but it suddenly occurred to me that this machine didn't necessarily have to stick to the road and could actually just drive right over me and the driver wouldn't even feel a bump! Scary moment but obviously I didn't get run down.
Another morning as I heard a vehicle approaching me from behind I stepped right to the very edge of the road with my dog to wait for the vehicle to pass us by but I kept getting a nagging tapping on my head from my angels so I turned round to see what the problem was and found myself facing a large truck with a snow plough attached to the front heading down the road towards me and of course the plough went right to the very edge of the road and would have swept me up very easily if I'd stayed where I was. I grabbed the dog, ran across the other side of the road and thanked my angels for their help!
The funny thing about being in the dark days of the Northern winter is that the nights can be contrastingly bright. As the sun sits lower on the horizon during these months the moon rises higher in the sky. Add together complete white landscapes with a full moon and you have the most brightly lit and magical kingdom in all the lands!
Wintertime Magic On Film
Absent Plumbers & Power Cuts
Something had happened to the tap in my kitchen, it developed a small dripping leak and because my water is pumped in from a well the leak meant the pump was constantly going off. As a temporary measure I created an easily accessible switch for the pump, effectively stopping the constantly running tap, and waited for the plumber....and waited and waited. I waited almost 2 months....it seems that plumbers the world over are fairly similar, promising to turn up, not showing up and then ignoring all your phone calls! But I soon got used to the manic routine of running up and down stairs flicking switches each time I wanted to use the loo!
Then the temperature dropped to -30 and the water pipes to the loo froze and I couldn't flush it anyway but it was ok because the pipes to the shower still worked so I could fill a bucket of water (once I'd run downstairs to switch on the pump!) and flush the toilet with that.
But we don't focus on the awkward toilet facilities when the scenery outside is absolutely stunning.....another lesson for the mind! After that the weather turned warmer and hit a fairly tropical -3. Then we had some strange freezing rain! It was like everything got sprayed in a very thin but very strong plastic coating! The trees and their snowy branches got coated adding to the weighty burden they already carried. My car got coated and it took ages to scrape it off before I could get in my car and drive home. I couldn't leave it because it was like trying to see to drive through frosted glass!
As the burden on the trees continued with additional snowfalls we awoke one morning to find many trees had bent over during the night creating tunnels along the roads. It all looked very pretty but unfortunately the trees bending over at the side of the road (because there were no other trees to hold then up) took down a lot of power lines that also run along the edge of the road. So most of us didn't have any electricity for a day...or in some cases for several days!
I was especially delighted one day to be reminded by my angels that my cesspit was almost full! I dug through the metre of snow making a little path to the opening and checked inside.....the angels were correct, perfect timing! I sent a message to the poo man as I call him (but not when I speak to him!) and rejoiced in my efficiency.
Then I got a message back that because of the electricity cuts the local council weren't accepted any waste for a few days. Enter a new phase of bucket use in the toilet! At least I had the outside toilet too even if it isn't always so convenient in the middle of the night being 200 metres away from the house! But the scenery is lovely! Have I mentioned that?
I had became accustomed to the fairly mild weather of around -5 for a week so on the one morning when I awoke to -24 I realised I would have to heat my car for a while before heading off to my work experience place (all part of my learning Finnish plan!). I plugged in the usual attachment which heats the oil which in turn protects the engine but I thought I would also give the battery some help too.
I usually plug in a fan heater and stick it under the bonnet for a while to warm the battery but that particular morning I found that the entire bonnet was iced shut...of course I could have run the engine to defrost the bonnet but I couldn't start the engine without warming the battery, doh!
Things which are iced together may as well be cemented together for those who don't know but if you give them a sharp tap for some reason they will part. So I spent 10 minutes bouncing up and down around the edges of my bonnet trying to free it. I would surely get some strange looks if I lived in suburbia and had neighbours but then I would also probably have a nice heated garage and wouldn't have this problem in the first place!
One morning I'd set my car running to warm it up before heading off and then I got a phone call to tell me I wasn't needed that day. Three hours later I remembered my car was still running! Whoops!
Silent, Simple, Stillness
Having said all that I love and fully appreciate the fact that the very same weather which creates problems for me in the wintertime is also the same weather which brings me awesome scenery, stunning sunrises and sunsets, magical moonlit landscapes, pure fresh air and months of calm stillness for inner reflection before I emerge into the Spring and begin my next period of growth and expansion.
I choose my point of focus wisely.