Yesterday I went in search of that lake I have been wanting to visit. The wish to go has been with me for many days now, but the battery on our 4WD has been acting up — well, the battery is fine, but for some reason it keeps de-charging, even if we have bought a new one — so it went into the car shop. And when I looked at the lake I saw that the only road-like formations that lead anywhere close to the lake look like paths made by forest machines. But yesterday evening, after not being able to shake the incredible urge to go, I packed my camera gear and took the Volvo. I thought I’ll just go by foot.
I was so surprised when I followed the navigator on my phone and turned onto a gravel road just outside of Lappi town. After a few houses the forest completely enveloped me and there was nothing out there except a few fields here and there.
Once the lake showed up in the Google Maps app, I pulled onto a slab of bedrock by the side of the road and walked straight out into the forest.
The ground beneath my feet was almost bog-like in places, and I called up Jay to let him know where I was and to come look for me if I didn’t call back in fifteen minutes. I love how he knows I will be fine, even when I don’t — it took me over twenty minutes before I called him again and he hadn’t expected anything else. It occurred to me today that every once in a while wolves have been spotted around these parts, so I will keep that in mind for my next visit.
Even if deep, dense and dark forests are intimidating, I was more concerned about the waning daylight and stepping through the moss. I remember when we were little and how my father warned us kids about bogs and where not to step–deep, black pockets of water that will swallow anything or anyone. I have since then always heeded his words when coming across anything that remotely resembles a bog.
Have you tried to use Google Maps when navigating on foot? I find it a little iffy, like it can’t figure out my direction. Which makes sense, since we move so slowly compared to when in a car. According to the map, though, the lake wasn’t even one kilometer from where I parked my car, so I figured I can’t get lost. And I didn’t. I felt strangely guided by my feet which steered decisively in one direction. I did stick to the clearer areas and avoided the thick, black forest which appeared to consume the little light that was left.
I spotted water through some trees shortly after I found one of those forest-machine made tracks I had seen on the satellite images. At the same time I realised I would not be able to make it there and back before dark fell, so I turned around. The area between me and the swathes of water I spied was brushy and my instincts told me I would not find a safe passage through there. I decided I will return during the day to find a better path.
For a while now I have had this wish to take a photo where I am in a tarn. The problem has been my wild fear of black water. Mostly because of the unsettling feeling of what might hide in the dark olden depths of these woodland ponds.
I have a distinct memory from my childhood. We were out camping one summer — we drove around in the southeastern parts of Sweden, in Småland — and we stopped in a small town. There was this lake there rich with reed, and a jetty leading out some ways. I ran along it with my brothers and jumped, feet first, straight as an arrow and shot downwards just as lithely.
And I sank. And sank. Deep down into something so cold and frightening. I can’t even put into words the horror that gripped me when I struggled to kick myself loose of that chilly denseness that gripped my feet and legs. That was the last time I jumped into water with my feet first. I have been swimming since then, but I prefer the ocean. I did go swimming many years ago in the lake where Jay’s father built the summer cottage. Jay and I swam far out, and suddenly something cold and bristly wrapped around my feet and I screamed. I have never swam so fast as I did when I flailed my way back to the jetty. Since then, on the very few occasions I went back in, I made Jay keep me in his arms. But it has still been a few years. Maybe it’s silly, and I have rationalised that it was merely seaweed, but that old memory from my childhood became renewed — magnified somehow. Together with the heightened senses I gain when I am in water, I just can’t seem to get past that fear. I do try to challenge it when I can, but in certain situations it goes so deep that I end up giving in to it.
As I drove back home, I came through this field in the middle of the forest to see the mist weaving its way through the tree line and out across the oats. I find fog to be incredibly beautiful, always have. There is something very enchanting about it in the last light. Magical. Like the illustrations from the books I read as a child.
After I got out of the car, I stood and watched these fascinating veils, and it looked like they were carried across the grain by invisible beings. An urge to walk into it took over and I strode ahead with a little smile on my face, like the years and years peeled back and fell onto the trail behind me. Something about my walk through the forest just minutes before had turned up the volume to something deeper, something older. Out here, I gain back my sight, my ability to hear and sense what busy, modern life seems to numb me to. Maybe it is all the technology that is the “magic”–the spell. And this — naked earth, naked nature–is clarity. I don’t know, and that is all right, but I think and wonder about it sometimes. More so these days than ever before.
Whether or not those flowing wisps of white are more than just a natural phenomenon, no matter what my beliefs are, I marvel at the artfulness in it too. The mystical forms that take all kinds of shapes through the haze. I lost my remote shutter for my camera this Tuesday. I forgot I put it on the roof of the car when I got my tripod out for my forest walk, it just slipped my mind, and as I got onto the 80 km/h road on our way out of Rauma later, I heard a scratching noise of something sliding across the roof. In the rearview mirror I saw something black twirl through the air and shatter as it hit the asphalt behind us. Such a typical thing for me to do. And then I had recently, with a bit of luck, found my glasses which I dropped in the forest while taking photos, and didn’t realise until I was halfway back to the car. Can you imagine trying to find black glasses among moss, lingon-and-blueberry shrubbery? Lucky.
With longer exposure times pushing the button on the camera, even with it sitting on a tripod, can create camera shake and blur. I also believe I should have upped the ISO (light sensitivity — I kept it at 100). Either way I really wanted to show you these photos, especially the next one. I found it so eerie yet beautiful somehow. Those shapes in the mist, which are only flowers sticking up in the background or foreground, look like ghosts. Shadows from another time and place. And the flower itself that got blurred still speaks of peaceful solitude. Not very unlike my own feeling out there in the quietness. I wanted to take a self-portrait but couldn’t get the focus. Afterwards I thought it wouldn’t have mattered. If anything, I would have melted into the mist and appeared as just another ghostly spirit.
I hope to return for another try to reach the lake soon, and during daylight. But the photo I want to take will require either morning or evening light, and I can’t wait too long if I am to get in the water. Soon the temperature will drop closer to zero, and I think it will be enough of a challenge to fight through my fear for those black depths, right? 🙂
Wishing you all a peaceful Wednesday. Much love. ❤