artArctica

artists with a passion for the Arctic

In bad snow, in good snow.

Why did you move to Finland?” “I bet it was because of a girl” “Things are pretty bad in Greece right now, I’d also move out.

I get this a lot. And it’s usually hard to explain in a few words – this is definitely not coffee-table conversation.

It’s about being in the far north – immersed in the frozen land and wearing the silence like underwear. Going to the shore of a frozen lake, the view extending for tens of kilometres on a clear day. Or a visibility of ten meters when it’s foggy, when sky, lake, snow, cloud become one.

It’s knowing that no matter how fast I ski, I’ll be skiing at least an hour in complete darkness because the day is so short this time of the year. It’s also realising that the snow brings a certain kind of light, where darkness is never purely black. It’s planned despair, where the conditions for skiing as so bad that going forward is as hopeless as going back home, and at the same time the immensely simple relief and joy of being by the fire afterwards.

The appreciation of life, catching your breath just when you thought you lost it.

It’s diving headfirst into soft snow, taking 1,5 hours to cross 1,5 km, because walking in half-meter deep snow turns out to be faster than trying to ski. It’s also skiing the same stretch of land the following morning, with better snow conditions at -20ºC, and feeling like surfing in clouds. Crossing the same distance in 20 minutes, smiling, breathing in crispy fresh air by the bagful.

It’s sleeping in a cabin at the top of a fell, gusts of winds occasionally reaching near gale level. Candles inside the cabin flickering because of the outside wind coming through the cracks. And sleeping in the warmth of a familiar, well-travelled sleeping bag, watching the northern lights from the window.

top-house

It’s all the mental and physical exhaustion that make me feel alive. Because when I finally arrive at the cabin, have some warm tea, and go outside to stare at a most stunning starry sky – I forget all the tiredness at once.

It’s the pain that makes me feel alive, and a gratitude for the experience – for it is by virtue of being alive that I can feel pain in the first place, and I am grateful for being alive.

PANO

It’s the beauty of this simplicity, of having nothing more than the necessary and a good measure of healthy struggle.

It’s the stillness and openness of the land, that makes myself feel open, relaxed, at ease.

And it’s the sauna after the trip, which makes me feel like I belong.

Why do I live in Finland?

This is why.

Hyvä on hiihtäjän hiihdellä,
kun hanki on hohtava alla,
kun taivas kirkasna kaareutuu –
mut hauskempi hiihtää, kun ruskavi puu,
tuul’ ulvovi, polku on ummessa
ja tuisku on taivahalla.

Hyvä on hiihtäjän hiihdellä,
kun ystävä häll’ on myötä,
kun latu on aukaistu edessään –
mut parempi hiihdellä yksinään,
tiens’ itse aukaista itselleen
ja yksin uhmata yötä.

Hyvä on hiihtäjän hiihdellä,
kun tietty on matkan määrä,
kun liesi viittovi lämpöinen, –
mut sorjempi, uljaampi hiihtää sen,
joka outoja onnen vaiheita käy
eikä tiedä, miss’ oikea, väärä.

Ja hyvä on hiihtäjän hiihdellä,
kun riemu on rinnassansa,
kun toivo säihkyvi soihtuna yöss’ –
mut käypä se laatuun hiihtää myös
hiki otsalla, suurissa suruissa
ja kuolema kupeellansa.

Eino Leino

skis2

Passionate about anything to do with arts and the outdoors, Laonikos writes about his experiences as a guide in Finnish Lapland. He is an avid sauna goer and bakes his own bread.

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