Good morning my dear friends and readers! Thursdays and Fridays are my sleep-in days but when Jay’s alarm went off this morning I woke up and shot out of bed. I went straight to the stove and started making Lilli some porridge. She usually makes her own breakfast (she likes it that way, but always loves my porridge). When Jay came downstairs a couple of minutes later, he asked me — a little groggily — why I got out of bed. My body just jumped up. Haha And it really did. I remember a time when getting out of bed was a process that could take up to an hour or more, a time when I was not a morning person. A time when I greeted a cheerful good morning with a grumpy mumble. I can still be slow in the mornings, and sometimes it takes a while to find my voice — I do like it peaceful — but it’s still fun to think about how differently I started my days. It’s something I like to use as a positive reminder of how we are capable of change. Keep working at it but give it time. Lasting change does take time to be established.
Earlier this week I promised Jay I would go into the forest to continue clearing around the saplings I planted this summer. We were promised snow today, and if too much snow falls on the bowed down stalks having created a blanket over the baby trees, they will become crushed and suffocate with each new layer. I was supposed to do this weeks ago, but not even visiting the forest seemed to be able to reach through the chaos of stress and anxiety inside me then. I made it once but hardly got anything done. But now. Yesterday I filled a thermos with coffee, took Loke with me, and went. And I stayed over three hours until after my coffee break. I lost track of time as I ran around with the camera in my hands.
On Tuesday on our way home from Rauma — I take Lilli there every Tuesday afternoon for her art school — we were met by snow flakes whirling down from a black sky just as we passed Lappi. It’s not unusual for the meteorologists to get the weather predictions wrong, so I was so relieved only a powdery layer fell during the night. And it’s so beautiful like that. That luminous white against the earthy tones of autumn’s last breath and the rich greens of pine and spruce is so serene.
I knew beforehand that if I start off with getting my camera out, I won’t be as efficient. So once I arrived at the clearcut area, I got my tools — a scythe and an ice hockey stick — and went straight to work. Some of the grass I just stepped on, and some of it I beat down with the hockey stick. When I used the scythe, the tougher stalks that weren’t cut through smacked me in the face. I lost count of how many times this happened, haha. It was so nice, though, to do this. It’s very hard, physical work, but I find that the more I exert myself in body, the more invigorated my mind becomes. This is why I used to go for several kilometer runs while I studied — I would run almost every day from Monday through Friday. It kept my mind sharp and clear. Then I discovered that taking long walks through nature did exactly the same. And running in nature… bliss.
I dreamed of doing a trail run through the High Coast during my time in Sweden, but had to stop running for a while when I got problems with one of my feet. The doctor put it down to strain on a joint in my big toe, probably due to faulty running technique. And possibly overdoing my exercising regime. After that long break while waiting for my toe to recover, I never fully got back to it. But it’s all right. I’m okay with that.
Loke stayed in the car while I worked, but after my break I got him out and he was so excited about all the smells he didn’t know where to turn. Apparently even a dead tree stump entices the senses! I can somewhat understand, though, even if my sense of smell isn’t as good as his. Not only the physical labour had an energising effect, but the scents. I didn’t so much stop to think about it while working. Once I engage in something, especially something like this — meaningful work for the benefit of future generations, personally caring for the health of the forest that I love — I can lose time and space. My dad is the same when he starts a project — he keeps going until he can’t keep upright. He even forgets to eat. I remember when I lived with him in later years of my life, and he would come into the kitchen like a dying man. I have to eat something, he would say as he pulled things out of the fridge with shaking hands. For many years afterwards he has said how much he appreciated my cooking, since I started cooking for the both of us and called him to the kitchen to eat. Another thing that has changed — we used to go head-to-head in the most intense debates and arguments when I was younger. The rest of the family would flee to another part of the house until we were done. For the longest time I held so many grudges against him, for being so harsh on me. But I was just as harsh back. Today I often find myself full of gratefulness I could let it go and instead cherish the good times.
I had no intention of going down memory lane, but the mind fills with trodden paths as the years go by and I often get lost wandering. It’s also much nicer when we can do so and look at the scenery in ways we didn’t before, don’t you think?
Every time I have come to these parts of our forests, I have wanted so badly to take photos and show it to you. Especially knowing some of them will be cut down in the years to come. Yesterday I shot over 200 photos, and with this new lens I felt I could finally capture the depth and soul in it. On the one hand it really saddens me when these old forests are harvested, but at the same time I know that when they are left for too long they die and rot. Such is the cycle of nature. Of course it is an aching sight to look at these clearings, but this is also why it truly means so much to me to be able to plant and nurture new trees. We take and we give back.
So when I go out onto these raw and naked fields, even with stark reminders all around me of what once used to be, I do not feel that sadness. I feel joy and purpose in my task. For every sapling planted I drive a stick into the ground next to it. This way we are able to follow its growth. We will see if it has been eaten by deer or elk and plant a new one, just as we will also be able to track it in a sea of dead, bowing grass to ensure its survival over winter.
As I write, clouds of steel are hurling snow down from the skies and I feel so bad about not finishing my work yesterday. I look out the window and as the day brightens I can see the world outside being covered in white. Only the taller sprouts and stalks left standing as nature goes into rest for the winter can be seen through the thickening blanket of snow. As much as I am looking forward to wandering through a winter wonderland, I can’t help hoping this too will melt so that I can return to finish what I started. I do take comfort in that I got over half of it done, and the worst areas, too, before taking my break.
And I can’t forget the generosity of the forest, how it restored me. I think back on sitting there with Loke, having my coffee, and doesn’t it just taste the best when it comes out of a thermos? Maybe the peaceful quiet and crisp air adds to it, as well. After this photo was taken I grabbed my camera and tripod and ran into the old forest to stand among the pines and spruces decades upon decades old. I closed my eyes and just existed.
I also think of that the glory in existing is to have been given the blessing of being born. Once upon a time a previous generation planted these very trees. Once upon a time Jay’s ancestors walked a raw field to place their very own little saplings into the earth — these very trees I can stand amongst and feel a part of this cycle. To know that somewhere down the line our descendants will see and feel this where yesterday existed but a field of little baby trees. In this I feel purpose, and in this I feel gratefulness.
Now I want to wish you a wonderful day. Much love. ❤