Caring For the Trees And Our Forests

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.

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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.

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a-slightly-bigger-pine-sapling

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.

me-contemplating-in-the-old-forest

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-sniffing-a-tree-stump

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?

powdery-snow-on-a-forest-road

powdery-snow-in-old-forest

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

me-feeling-the-freedom-among-old-trees

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. ❤

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A Morning Date With the Wood Burner

Hello darlings! I just looked at the time and it’s incredible how quickly the hours just fly ahead when I’m consumed in a task. When I got up this morning our house was so cold because we were lazy this weekend and didn’t keep an eye on the wood burner. Last night Jay went to check it and confirmed the fire had gone out some time ago, and flipped the switch to heat up our water with electricity instead. We are lucky we aren’t in the dead of winter with twenty below zero. While it’s still on the plus side, although only a few degrees, it seems the water stays warm for longer, even after the fire has gone out.

Using electricity is something I find so wasteful when we have our own wood to burn, but I am also grateful we have that option — as much as it’s not meant as backup for our laziness. However it’s very useful on those harshest and most painfully cold days since burning wood simply isn’t enough. Of course, I am completely okay with putting on an extra layer of clothes, but not having the luxury of warm water on those days isn’t so nice. That said, we haven’t had a winter like that for a long, long time now.

ash-chamber-overflowing
The ash waste goes into this container, and a big screw is attached to the handle, with which we grind the waste through a pipe in the wall and into a big barrel on the other side.

As soon as the darkness lifted, I got dressed in my work clothes and went outside to deal with the fire. I really don’t like going out there when it’s till dark, at least not up on the loft. There are so many deep corners up there and the slightest wind whistles eerily through the old wood. I’m a grown woman but still afraid of the dark and so easily spooked it’s ridiculous. Some nights I have to wrap the bed cover around my legs — I have this strange fear of something touching my feet. I’ve read and heard that I’m not alone in that, though. Do any of you have fears like that?

The first thing I do when I get out there is fill up the container with wood chips. If the fire has gone out, I have to turn the feed off before or it will push wood into the burner, which fills up and gets clogged without a fire. It is only now that I am getting the hang of all the things involved in this. The amount of times Jay has had to answer the same questions!

checking-the-wood-burner-chamber

cleaning-the-wood-burner-chamber

I think the fire went out before we ran out of wood because the burner chamber was full of wood chips and big charred/melted lumps. I have no idea what happened, but I spent the longest time cleaning before I could even get started on building the fire. I had to reach in there with my hands and dig it all out.

a-pot-full-of-ash

The actual fire is in the end part of the pipe which feeds wood, and not inside the burner chamber. Took me some time before I understood this. Air also blows through this pipe, so before the fire is alive and steady, I have to disable the screw, otherwise it will just push whatever little glowing embers have ignited out into the burner chamber. And then I have to start all over.

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the-bolt-screw-nut-thingy

I gave up trying to find the appropriate names for these parts. In the first image are the two levers — one connected to the screw and one to the engine that drives it around. That bolt (or whatever it’s called) in the second image has a ball bearing inside it (I think). It keeps the two levers connected, and before the fire burns, it has to be removed so that the engine (or compressor?) only blows air through the feed pipe. Jay was in charge of this at first, but now that I can do it, I have to be the one to tighten this bolt, otherwise I can’t get it back off. He tightens it way too much. For my strength, at least, haha.

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burning-milk-carton

We collect all burnable things from the household rubbish and use it for kindling. These milk cartons are perfect since I just open it up and fill it with paper and carton and whatever else, then light it up. After that I put it into the end of the feed pipe, where there has to be wood chips. Then I just wait until the wood a little further in is burning. This looks really cool. Like hundreds of tiny, tiny fireflies soaring out from the pipe and into the wood burner chamber. I tried to get a photo of it, but I wasn’t willing to risk the health of my camera. 😉 I did manage to catch a few flying dots of fire, though!

flying-burning-dots

So that was my morning. I think I spent almost two hours out there, and another couple of hours, almost, getting this written because I do not possess the skill of multitasking. The editing took no time at all. I barely did anything with them, and I think it’s thanks to my yummy (it is a good word!) new lens! ❤

me-and-my-beloved-coffee
Here I am, writing you lovely people and waiting for hot water so I can wash all the soot off, haha!

Now I will wish you all a wonderful week. I hope it brings many good things your way. I also want to thank you for all the lovely words you leave me, they really make me so happy and I love reading them. I will sit down and answer your comments a little later today. I’ll see you soon!

Soaking Up The Beauty Of Early Winter Light

Hello my dearest friends and readers. I woke up at 04:30 this morning. As I sat on the toilet, eyes grainy with sleep, I thought that I would put on some coffee, do a blog post, and then go back to bed. Haha, I don’t know why I get these ideas when I am dead tired, but ever since I uploaded the photos I took yesterday to my computer I have been eager to share them. So I sat down with a cup of hot coffee and got to work. Ever since Wednesday I have felt under the weather, like I am getting sick, and everything takes a hundred times longer than usual, so just before seven o’clock I had only one photo left to save when this awful nausea hit me. I really slid down in my chair and couldn’t move, afraid I would throw up. I just stared at that save-box and thought just think up a name for the photo and save it, then go to bed.

I did and I slept till 11:00! And now I’m here again to photo bomb you. 😉

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I mentioned in my last post that I barely lifted my camera for the past few weeks. After my confession to Jay, talking with my friend, and telling you all about it, I felt light as a feather. It really is true what is said about sharing our burdens and relieving the weight of it. Yet this felt more like throwing it off completely and suddenly it seemed like the walls around me were torn down and I could run out in whichever direction I chose. It’s just incredible how we with our thoughts and perceptions can either create a suffocating prison for ourselves, or a vast wonderland of endless possibilities. And all it takes is a little honesty — with ourselves and others. Just wow. Don’t you think?

So yesterday I spent over two hours outside. First, I took Loke for a walk along our little road that leads toward the neighbours and our mailbox. Jay drove past me at one point to get Lilli from Lappi — she had stayed behind after school to play with some friends. I like having Loke with me, but he gets so impatient if I linger too long to take photos, and since he is still so young and doesn’t always stay by my side, I keep him on a leash. So very often I find myself consumed in taking a specific shot and suddenly my arm flies out when he decides we have been still for too long. I can get so irritated with him at those times, even if I understand how boring it must be for him to sniff around the same scents for too long. He knows when I am ready to move along, and instantly starts skipping in joy that we are finally leaving whatever little cramped space I squeezed myself into to get my photos. Haha

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more-soft-light-over-fields

I love how gentle the light is right now. It’s kind of perfect when I think about it, because when the snow comes, that light dances off the thousands of shimmering crystals covering the lands and I can’t imagine how blinding it would be if the sun stood as high in the sky as it does during summer. Although it can be blinding all the same — you can even get a tan! Which makes me think of what I have heard growing up, about depression hitting us so hard here in this part of the world during these darker months. Yet if I at any time felt weary, it was during spring and high summer. I wondered earlier this year if it’s because all my depots get depleted during the darker months, but then another blogger mentioned how hard and cold the light is in spring, and I have always been sensitive to strong light conditions. I get headaches, bone-weary, lose motivation — I feel like a zombie. But maybe it isn’t just that the light is too harsh. What if the fact that I am outside more during autumn and winter as opposed to spring and summer, and with the help of the reflection off the snow, it is enough anyway? Apparently we don’t get the vitamin D humans need up here in the Nordic countries, but what if we are evolved in such a way to either soak up the vitamin D easier, or maybe we just don’t need as much. And I have heard so many stories from others who suffer spring depression as well, so maybe it’s just a myth? I find this all so very interesting. What do you think?

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We were at a birthday party recently, and afterwards we stopped by the shop to pick up some milk. Jay disappeared for a moment and when I finally saw him coming toward me, he had this quirky smile on his face and two of these tomtar in his arms. They have holders for marschaller, torch like candles that look like a really big tea light candle. Jay thought they would look great in the opening of the spruce hedge to our yard, and I agree. They look so adorable sitting there. ❤

jay-coming-to-talk

I actually went out twice yesterday. My fingers are so incredibly sensitive to cold and moisture these days, and they turn corpse-pale and I lose all sensation in them, so I can’t be out for too long at a time or it becomes extremely painful. Not all fingers are affected actually, only some. It’s so strange to see a couple of my fingers look so totally yellow-white next to the ones not affected, and it’s not the entire finger, either, only from the second or last joint down to the tip. My mother has the same problem.

Jay was away on a business trip a couple of weeks ago, and when he came home he had gotten me a new lens for my camera! It’s this amazing little lens; a 50mm with the smallest f-number at 1.8. I used that for all the photos in this post. But what I love the most about it are the beautiful close-ups it produces. Right behind Jay in the last photo, between those two buildings are a few red currant bushes, and when I first tested the lens I took a few photos of them at sunset. So the reason I went back outside was to get some more, because they just looked so beautiful and I only got a couple of good ones the first time. I’m still trying to get a hang of the focus on the new lens — it is a little trickier than I am used to.

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magical-sunset-and-depth-of-field

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colourful-lichen-and-branches

I have also finally started collecting photos to put up on a page called Printler. It’s a Swedish-founded online photo print shop, and it’s for photographers as well. Best of all — they recently went international. I wrote them earlier this year to ask if I could sign up to sell my photos, and they told me that so long as I have a Swedish ID number, I can, which I have. But I wasn’t sure how it would work with taxes and in practice, since I live in Finland. They also told me then that they would launch outside of Sweden this autumn, so in the end I decided to wait. Meanwhile I considered the fact that as a non-professional photographer without a business registration number, you get 30% of the profits, as opposed to up to 50%. If I have understood it correctly. I thought about this for months, and now I have decided that I will sign up. I follow this wonderful blogger and photographer, Jonna Jinton, whom I know some of you also follow, and after having read how stressful and time consuming it can be to have a web shop and handle all packaging and postage yourself, I think that any reduced profit (if there even is any, considering I’d have to pay for the prints, postage and handling if I had my own web shop anyway) is more than worth my own peace of mind. Printler handles all of that. The only thing I have to do is take photos and upload them to my own personal gallery. That’s it. I think it’s a great option to start with.

jay-in-soft-light

soft-light-on-old-barn

After creeping around in the bushes to get my close-ups of the berries, I took a walk down behind the farm. I mentioned we had workers digging around in our fields to put down new electricity cables, and I think that, too, kept me from taking my beloved photo walks around the farm. I’m not as strict with requiring my privacy when I photograph these days, but it still felt awkward to have strangers driving and walking back and forth in our private safe haven. Especially with all the noise from the machines.

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muddy-trenches

pipe-for-wires

I was so shocked when I walked around the orange digger to find a huge trench cutting through our little road. It made me realise how long it has been since I last walked this way.

trailer-full-of-muck

But this digging is done by Jay and his father. Instead of paying hundreds of euros for labour to dig down the pipe through which the fiber cable for our new internet connection will go, Jay decided to do it himself. He and his father also know what lies beneath the earth around here, so they know precisely where it’s safe to dig and where not to. I don’t know if I mentioned that the workers cut through a cable that shut down electricity to parts of our farm, including the heating system that brings the hot water from the barn to our house. On a Friday afternoon. Luckily it wasn’t so cold then, and one of the workers managed to patch it up till we could get an electrician to repair it.

logs-and-magical-light

winter-apple-in-soft-light

The sun played peek-a-boo all of yesterday, so I am very glad I went out twice and stayed for so long. I got to capture so much beauty from the softness of these early winter evenings. In fact, it isn’t really only in the evening the light is like this — it is an all day blessing. From early morning till early sunset. Actual winter sunsets are something from another realm. I will make sure to capture some of those moments, too, and share with you. Especially when the frost or the snow stays from dawn till dusk.

maple-seed-pods-in-soft-winter-light

magical-bokeh-and-branches

magical-bokeh-and-spruce-branches

Now we have to get ready for town. Lilli is going to stay with her grandmother till tomorrow, which she reminded me of when I told her we are going into the forest this weekend to collect some things for Christmas decoration crafting. Haha I finished scraping off glue and sanded off some paint yesterday from the wooden panelling around the closet in our new bedroom. (Yes, I am still at it! Haha) I accidentally smeared green paint onto them when I painted the walls several weeks ago. So, hopefully, I will get the last painting job done tomorrow before Lilli comes back, and then I’ll get started on the guest room. Just as long as it all gets done before the 23rd of December, when my parents and my sister come over for Christmas! ❤

Haha, another long post! I will leave you now, though, and wish you a wonderful Friday and weekend. Many hugs and much, much love.

Walking A Frosty Wonderland

Hello my darling friends and readers! I started this post earlier today while listening to some music and going through the photos I took this morning. I finally made it out to capture some frost! And the air right now is absolutely amazing. Rich yet crisp, with a touch of that clean, wintry scent.

frosty-leaves

Earlier this year we got some papers from the local council to negotiate the rerouting of some electricity lines in our village, and that we were to get an electricity station on our lands through which these new cables will go. As unesthetic as it is, there wasn’t much to do but to like and accept the situation. At least we got to decide where the thing was to be placed. And so, for the past few days, now that the harvest is pretty much done, all kind of vehicles have been driving up and down our little road, and machines have delved into the fields.

electricity-box

diggers-in-the-fields

workers-in-the-fields

On a more positive note, however, this has eased the installation of a more reliable and faster internet connection through what we call fiber. Not sure if it’s the same in English? For years now we have had internet problems, and we even switched to mobile internet since it worked better than ADSL. That hasn’t exactly been ideal either, but we have made do. Now though, as soon as all the work is done, the days of our connection dropping out whenever it feels like it are over. Hopefully.

sun-glow-through-frosty-maple-leaf

Today was Lilli’s last day of school before a five-day autumn break. We did intend to go on a little trip, but since the harvest took so long, everything else was pushed forward, and with colder days and frost long past the morning hours, every day counts to prep the fields for winter. This weekend Lilli will spend some time with her grandmother in Rauma, though, and she always loves that. They both do.

jay-running-for-the-tractor
Jay asked me to come photograph the fields and met me to show me where, then ran back to work.
ploughing-the-fields
Jay’s father does the ploughing.

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Meanwhile, I’m working on getting myself back on track. Going to bed earlier, for one. Since I last wrote I believe I hit that wall, and the time for a change is now. Not later. No more excuses or justifications as to why I have to stay up a little while longer to get this or that done. Last night I crawled beneath the covers a few minutes past ten at night, as opposed to two in the morning. I slept like a log for over eight hours, which was long overdue and did help, but I felt almost drunk when I got up, so this sleeping business has moved up to top priority now.

I must tell you how much warmth your words in response to my latest post gave me. I felt the smile all the way down in my toes. It’s like having my very own cheerleading squad and I can’t express in words how incredibly grateful I am to you for such wonderful support. It really means so much to me. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. ❤

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sunrise-over-farm-building-in-frost

frost-covered-logs

This morning I had every intention to finally get some photos taken I have been planning for some time now, and to write a post about that dream I have had for the longest time and am now pursuing. I took my camera with me when Loke and I went for our morning walk, though, and got stuck photographing a frost-covered wonderland. By the time I got back inside the joints in my hands ached so badly I nearly cried. That’s what I get for leaving my gloves inside and thinking a short walk with Loke wouldn’t turn into anything else but that. Haha So instead I will leave you a couple of photos from this weekend, when Jay joined me in the living room while I was practicing. It will give you an idea of what this new endeavour of mine involves. 😉

(And excuse the mess. Neither of us are the tidiest people in the world. Haha)

cello-in-messy-room

me-and-my-cello
Photo by Jay.

A cello. To me it is the most beautiful instrument in this world — well, I do love all bow instrument. If I say much else I will not be able to stop, so I am saving it for another post. I am curious though if any of you play an instrument or have any favourites? I tried for years to learn playing the guitar but my heart wasn’t in it. It just didn’t fit somehow.

Now, I want wish you the best week and to send you lots of love. Take care of yourselves and each other. ❤

Autumn, Fire And Rainy Days

Good afternoon dear friends and readers. I hope your week started off well and that you are blessed with “better” weather than we have been lately. I have to say that I actually don’t mind this dusky light nor the rainy days. Somehow it enhances the colours on our vibrant forests and it all feels so mystical and cozy. I am not sure how much longer we will get to keep the leaves though. A couple of days ago the winds arrived — those strong, cold autumn gales which tell us colder days are on their way — and since it hasn’t only been raining water, but leaves, too. It’s such a powerful sight I just stop and stare.

windy-autumn-trees

I tried to capture those whirling leaf clouds but they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, and after scaling down five hundred photos to thirty, I still felt I had to take some out, so it didn’t make the final cut.

rain-drops-on-window

I have this immense struggle with being able to perceive how much time something takes. Not only that, I get stuck in each little element, so everything I do seems to take half an age to get done. Do you ever experience that?

I sat down yesterday morning to pick out photos from Monday and write about what we got up to that day, but then I looked out the window and just listened to the soothing melody of rain drumming against the sill. My mind whisked me away. I’ll get some photos of these rain droplets on the window. One thing lead to another, and I ended up on the door step where I sat for I don’t know how long to capture the rain.

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By the time I got back, my coffee was cold and I had to make some more. I don’t know how healthy my coffee consumption is, but editing photos requires a couple of cups. At least. Loke was sleeping on the floor but kept an eye on me, in case I might disappear outside again. He used to be a destroyer of worlds when left alone, but he seems to have calmed down. These days I rarely see him standing on the recliner to look out the window to see where we are.

sleepy-loke-dog

When I finally was able to sit down again, I only got halfway through the photos before we had to get ready for Rauma. Every Tuesday afternoon Lilli has art school, but we left earlier yesterday to have time to run some errands first.

While Lilli went on an excursion with her art class, Jay and I had coffee at his mother’s place. She is on her last year of work and retires this coming spring, so she has been saying she will come out here more often, and to help out in the garden or whatever we might need. I hold admiration for a great many people, for all kinds of things, but there is something about Jay’s parents and others from this generation — nothing seems to slow them down. They find and carry out a thousand tasks in such a way that to me appears seamless and effortless. I do know it isn’t always as easy as it seems, but I admire it all the same.

finnish-autumn-farm-buildings

finnish-autumn-farm

So. On Monday Jay and his father had to clear a meadow full of wild hay and weeds, then burn it. Jay asked me to come down and take photos for his “archives”. He got that “tough” camera for himself to document the work on the farm, but I understand wanting photos taken from afar, so that all of the action can be seen. I hadn’t ever really looked at the farm from this angle, especially not when the fields are bare. It really does look big from here, as a friend told me, and it was so nice to get this different perspective of our home.

loke-dog-in-autumn-field
Loke joined me.

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men-on-tractor-in-forest-meadow

Jay found my camera before I could upload the photos. I asked him to come to watch them with me yesterday. These photos turned out great, honey, come have a look! He told me he had seen them already on the camera. Lots of artistic ones, he said with that little funny smile of his. He doesn’t get the point of leaves in focus and the digger and its purpose all blurred out in the background. Haha I explained then that I wanted photos for myself as well, for the blog. He thought I could just blur out the faces, but to me that ruins the feeling in the photo. I did however do that on the top photo for Jay’s father. I don’t know if you can tell — I tried to keep it as subtle as possible. And luckily half the face is hidden behind the exhaust. Haha

autumn-leaves-and-digger-out-of-focus
One of my “artistic” photos. Haha 😉

That “wagon” Jay sat on behind old Fergu (a Massey Ferguson from the 1960’s) is ancient, and meant to be pulled by a horse. It’s amazing and great how they still find use for these “outdated” tools and vehicles, and that they actually work.

So first they cleared the wildness with it — I think it just rakes and rips out the worst of the hay and weed, the tall and dry — then used the bright orange digger to gather it into piles for burning. For this kind of work, I am glad it has been so wet lately. With winds like we had on Monday, I worry it would have spread so easily. But they know what they are doing — I just get the pleasure of running around with my camera to document it all.

combine-harvester

While Jay’s father collected the hay and weeds into piles, Jay took the combine harvester to some smaller fields close to the river to finish some areas left from last week. It has grown unevenly, and some of it wasn’t fully ready. He called it cherry picking and showed me some photos of what was left. Apparently the combine has been having engine trouble, and conks out, so I don’t actually know if he did manage to get the rest on Monday.

autumn-brushy-forest-birch

autumn-rowan-branches-leaves-and-berries

I keep thinking I want to get out and take photos on these darker days. Mostly, I struggle to get out of my head to begin with, but I am also so frightened of the higher ISO (light sensitivity) numbers. This is also why I rarely take nor show photos from inside the house. Well, that and the unbelievable mess everywhere. Haha

When I was out on Monday (and yesterday) I had to use an ISO of either 400 or 800 to be able to keep the shutter speed at 1/500 second to freeze movement. And as far as I have understood it, to get greater depth of field, clarity and colour, I couldn’t use the smaller f-numbers. I used 7.1 and 8 now, for most photos. (On the zoom lens I am still borrowing, I normally use f4 – 5.6.)

After having looked through all these photos now I see that an ISO of 400 I can accept, if I must, but the photos in which I used ISO 800 turned out too grainy for my tastes. I can fix it somewhat in Lightoom, with luminance and colour correction, but it softens the entire image and I lose clarity and sharpness. I did however consider that maybe I just have to work around it by composing images that look good that way, if you know what I mean? To keep that in mind when I shoot, so that a soft, dreamy film suits the composition of the entire image. It’s not a problem if there is no wind and I can use slower shutter speed, but I do have to keep the tripod with me since I am very shaky with my hands.

autumn-aspen

In spite of the gloomy lighting and leaving the house without the tripod, I managed to wander off into the forest. All these colours had me so distracted, and the smells were divine. I ended up by the little river and lost track of time. When I got back, Jay had returned to take over managing the fires.

autumn-branches-over-water

autumn-reflections-in-water

Jay is never surprised when I disappear like that, and I really am so glad I can. In fact, had it not been for Jay asking me to come outside on Monday, I might not have made myself. This strange lethargy continues to hover over me, but when I do get outside it dissipates almost immediately. I don’t know if I can call it lethargy, because my mind is like a beehive. And I can’t relax, even if my butt seems glued to its spot at times. Either way, I can only keep trying to overcome it until I do. And rest. I am at my wits end with these short nights and my brain ding-dong-ing whenever I slip out of my sleep just the slightest. I get moments when I don’t feel like myself at all. Do you ever get that?

smoking-fields

When I got back… No, wait. Haha I went back inside after I took the photos of Jay and his father driving Fergu. My camera had something stuck on the lens and I had to clean it. Jay came inside to tell me when the fires were burning, and I went out a second time. That was when Jay left with the combine harvester and I disappeared into the woods.

I am sitting here laughing so much right now. If you only knew how many times in a day this sort of thing happens to me, or the amount of times I think I have done something when I haven’t. So, you know what? I am not going to re-write all this. I have already been writing on and off for a couple of hours now.

Are you certain you would want to visit a wellness center under my management? Haha

pitchfork-in-burning-hay

man-with-pitchfork-in-burning-hay

man-smoke-and-fire-in-field

At least there would be someone close at hand who could handle a fire. 😉

Well, this has been my week so far. How about you? Have you had or do you have anything special on the schedule this week?

Now I am going to call and make an appointment with my hairdresser. I would like to liven up my hair for some photos I am planning, and if all works out, I’ll be a little more redhead than brunette. I have coloured my hair a lot throughout my life, but completely blonde is something that I can’t seem to take care of, so I promised myself to not do that again. I have very fine strands of hair and I end up looking a little like those tiny trolls you can put at the end of pencils. Haha

autumn-birch-bark-closeup

yellow-rowan-leaves-closeup
End of photo bomb. ;-*

Many hugs and much love, darling friends and readers. ❤

The Meaning In The Journey

Good morning, dear friends and folk! When I got up this morning, Loke had left me a little present on the dining room floor. Sometimes, if I get up really early, he is still so tired that he doesn’t come to greet me, but if I myself hadn’t been so tired in spite of getting up later, I would have understood why there was no happy bubbas anywhere in sight to tell me good morning. He was very, very ashamed of his little accident.

For many days now I have meant to do a blog post, but as I sit here with my big cup of coffee and write, my mind is so hazy I can’t even remember all the things that have gotten in the way. And the photos, which I have wanted so badly to show you, didn’t get ready until last night. I can sit with photos for hours spread out over a few days, but I don’t think I so far have spent this much time on editing as I did with these. So today I thought I would be sharing a lot of photos. I had hundreds but managed to scale it down to about twenty. I am splitting them into two posts, though, since the words once again took me in another direction.

autumn-reflection-reed

I think I have mentioned that very often I like mellow colours and tones in my images. So it’s so rare that I touch vibrance and saturation on the colour bars in Lightroom. Other than to take it down, of course. Now that autumn is here, I realised this and subsequently how little I know of bringing out colour. Either I mess up the saturation so that it feels like everything is screaming at me, or if I want to make a specific colour pop, another suffers. Am I making any sense? And then I want to keep it true to the colour palette we see with our eyes, while still adding my feelings into it.

It’s difficult to look up tutorials; I basically just have to sit with the sliders until my heart does a little somersault and I know it’s right. No tutorial can tell me which settings are in tune with my emotions, nor any of these thousands of pre-sets for Lightroom I have noticed are around. Kind of like how no one can tell us what our purpose is — we have to figure that out for ourselves by searching within.

autumn-colours-on-branches

To have a purpose in life, as many have mentioned in books I have read over the years, is so important — if not the most important thing. Without it we seem to float through the motions as the days pass. I like to think of it as a compass by which to navigate. It gives us direction, and in any situation, if we have that, we will look at solutions that will keep us steady on our feet. When there is a fork in the road, it will give us a hint which one might be the right one to choose in order to stay true to our purpose. Our true self.

dew-frost-spruce-branches

All that said, I am not yet entirely certain of my purpose. Still I don’t think that is an uncommon thing, and especially not since I for so long have tried to dance to borrowed tunes and loaned ideals. I have wanted to appear to be on the right path, know what I want, do the right thing. Oh, those perceived expectations and notions. But I can honestly say that I am coming to be at peace with that it’s okay. We all do what we in any given moment think is right, don’t we? We go by what we know today and try to make the best of it. As we gain experience and ability to shift our perceptions, we move. I don’t know the right formula for it, but I do know all these paths — steps through failure and success — I have taken lead me to where I am today. Because I was meant to. Because I needed to.

To make mistakes, to realise a choice I made wasn’t the best but yet necessary is part of the journey I believe, and it is only recently I have been able to stop to release a breath and forgive myself for them. Some of them. Self-forgiveness is such a hard thing, don’t you think?

autumn-rowan-berries

Ever since I got up this morning I have been coughing and I still have this congested feeling in my chest. As I said, last night I finally finished editing all these photos, and first I thought I would have a date with Poldark — the newer British-American BBC series about a man in 18th century Cornwall who comes home from the war in America to find life quite changed. I love the music, the scenery, and the mood in it. But. Then I opened up a new draft and decided to eat my carrots with dip sauce and write instead. Just as I began, Jay came to tell me he needed my help outside. So I spent the remainder of my (very late) evening among rumbling machines and whooshing grain. The mist outside was so thick I could see the pillar so clearly when shining the flashlight out into the night. We both thought of what marvelous photos that could have produced, yet neither of us know how to photograph in complete darkness.

shimmering-web-branches

My job was to stand ready to run and shut hatches when the silo was full. Jay sat up close to the rafters and shouted down over the noise when it was time.

The grain dryer has been going day and night and we have used up so much fuel it’s insane. It has been so wet here, and before we transfer the grain to the silos the moisture has to go below a specific number. Jay showed me how to use the knifty meter and how to start the necessary machinery to get the grain moving in order to be able to take a sample.

It is like a maze out there, with all the stairs to the different levels and all the silos within the building, which has been expanded over the years to house more silos. I would bring my camera out there if it weren’t for all the dust. However, Jay just got a camera meant to withstand dirt and even water — he submerged it in a sink full of water and took a selfie! Haha. So I will see if I can borrow it and show you around.

autumn-forest-shimmer

As I walked around between one of the containers the grain goes through before entering another pipe system and to look up toward where Jay was, awaiting his signal, I had much room for thoughts. While I have to ask Jay to pace himself sometimes when I’m out working with him — he gets so excited about explaining and very often spices it up with storytelling — once it’s time for the actual work, I can be alone with my thoughts. I really love that about this part of farm work. Sure there is a lot of bureaucracy — rules and regulations to abide by — administrative work, and the general business side of it, but since I am actually not employed nor am I listed as a worker on this farm, there are aspects I never deal with. But I do want to learn and it is part of life on this farm. Jay’s mother did these things, too, even if she also had a job to go to.

autumn-light-lichen-wood-log

 

While I might not be sure yet of my purpose, I still have a feeling. It’s kind of like I can sense that compass, but with the daily challenges of my past and on the days I struggle extra hard, I sometimes think of it as fumbling through mist. I might catch glimpses of shapes and silhouettes, but then they move just out of reach to distinguish. They are there, though — I sense it. And that is what keeps me searching. Can you relate?

Before I go on to await my first practice session with driving the harvester, I would like to show you one more photo I forgot in my last post from my walk through the forest.

 

Since I have talked about it so much, I think you might remember my search for that forest lake? This isn’t that. But as I drove out of Lappi that day, after a few bends in the road I passed this little tarn. On my way back from the walk, I stopped here and took a few photos. Do you also remember how I said I felt I was meant to be met by failure to reach that lake on my first attempts? When I saw this little tarn, with only one little summer cottage to the left (outside the frame), I knew I had found my backup. If I can’t reach that lake in the forest, this will be the one. I was so amazed by how clear it was, which my editing doesn’t really show, haha. But how beautiful it is.

autumn-tarn-wonderland

There have been many times in the past I have been so focused on the search — the end destination — that I haven’t stopped to see what lies along the road. That day on my way home I first drove straight past the tarn, but then my foot eased off the excelerator. Something inside my chest tugged. I couldn’t leave it behind. I had to stop. So I reversed onto the shoulder and stepped out to truly take it in. Trees, bushes and tall grass stood in my way, but the shore was right there, I had but to step right through. So I did, and I sat down on the edge in the wet undergrowth. That was when I noticed the murky shadows of sea weed — so well defined in the clear water. A thrill of excitement and gutting fear went through me as I tried to imagine myself getting into that water. I honestly don’t know if I will be able to do it. But I am going to try, so long as I don’t let these colder days become my excuse not to.

It’s that feeling I have to cling to, those faint whispers of the child of creativity that so long ago stopped coming by to tap my shoulder, after too many times having been told not now. She is there, though. I sense her, and as someone said recently, as I shared briefly of these thoughts in a post on Instagram, you will dance again. I believe so. With all my heart. And this time, I will keep dancing until we both move as though I never stopped. As one.

Part of this journey are you, dear friends and readers. When I sit down to write and share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams, I feel I am connecting to that part of myself I have neglected. I may not update as regularly and often as I used to or as I like, but so very often during my day I think of things I want to tell you and show you. And when you share your own reflections, your own dreams and inner yearnings — that means so much to me. It strengthens my belief in that to give of ourselves, just as we are, is something to be treasured. It is treasured. So my deepest, heartfelt thanks for all your words. I read and cherish them and will answer as soon as I can.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to finish the other post before next week starts.

Much love. ❤

Something Meaningful

In one of my very first posts when I started this blog, I wrote how I have always loved drawing. I also used to sing a lot, and when I was practicing Celine Dion-tunes my dad would yell from upstairs who is strangling the cat? (Even if we did not have one at that point in time, huh.) When I didn’t sing or draw I would find something else. I remember I got out my mother’s old painting books and colours and painted the landscapes I saw on the pages. I painted on cardboard boxes or the covers of drawing pads, since we couldn’t afford anything else.

LeafyWindow

Artsy things. Anything to do with creating something beautiful is something I have always loved doing. I asked myself in my journal a few days ago what it is I love so much about photography. I thought of when I studied to become a makeup artist in Australia, back in 2003. That was about the same thing. To capture beauty–there is so much of it in this world–and bring it forward. Anything that fascinates me–any subject, object or composition of several–colours, light, dark, angles–which to me holds a sense of wonder I want to capture. And interpret–translate into a medium with which I want to say, “This is how I see our world. Look how wonderful it is.”

TheOldSauna

And yesterday, as I came out of the barn after helping Jay with building some shelves, I looked at the piled tree trunks out there. Some of it is used to make wood chips, which we burn to heat up the house and our water. And some of it just sits there. I stood there and gazed at it all, wandered closer and suddenly I had an aspen trunk in my arms and carried it away to what used to be a horse wagon shed.

Wheelbarrel

These days we keep various tools and gardening equipment in that building. With that tool there, resting on the wheelbarrow, I removed the bark from the aspen. I told Jay about an idea I had, earlier that day, and he found a tool I could use. I don’t know the name of it, but it has been on this farm for at least a few generations.

It took me quite some time to peel the bark, and by the time I was done my entire body ached. The result was so worth it, though.

PeeledAspenTrunk

PeeledAspen

And today I got another trunk and peeled the bark off. A birch this time. The most fascinating patterns are hidden beneath the bark, and together with the scratch marks from the peeling tool, it looks incredible.

TreeTrunks

BirchBark

BirchUpClose

These piles of birch and aspen are now off-limits–they are now mine. I am going to create something out of it.

A couple of days ago Jay told me there will be no more saplings to plant this year. I have waited and waited so I can get out there again. But apparently this entire country has run out of saplings. I cannot even believe how that is possible. I talked to Jay about growing our own. Gather pine and spruce cones and just grow them ourselves. But we need thousands. That is a lot of work. Not to mention I have no idea where to keep them, especially over winter. I haven’t abandoned the idea just yet. I know nothing about growing trees, either, but the great thing about not knowing something is the opportunity you get to learn it.

FairytaleForest

In the meantime, I will be spending a lot of time working on those aspens and birches. Finland celebrates one hundred years this year, by the way, and for this there has been a drive to plant trees. I wondered if that was why we have run out, but Jay says it is because we are cutting down more forest than normally here and so we have to plant more than usual. Either way, my longing for planting trees has met a sad ending for now, but I can do something with a few of the ones we have taken that is more symbolic and meaningful than burning.

I am so incredibly exhausted I have to go to bed, but I felt I wanted to let you know why I am and will be a little absent. During the weekend I will pop in again to take part in the Weekly Photo Challenge, but for now I hope you have all had a great week so far and I wish you a wonderful weekend ahead. ❤

A Day On the Farm

Hey, everyone! I hope you are all off to a good start of the week. Here, the rain seems to finally be slowing down. For two weeks or so we were promised rain but none came. Yesterday, however, it arrived with a vengeance. It didn’t patter–it rumbled. All day it drummed our roof like a pro and gurgled in the rain pipes. An honest summer rock festival a la Nature. As for me, well, I did absolutely nothing. I was so restless last night and dazed at the same time. Over two hours passed before I fell asleep. It was one of those in-between days that passed and left me wondering if I had been awake at all.

Today I am back on track. I started the day by writing myself a To-Do List and got some housework out of the way. Loke sheds hair like an entire pack–ten packs–and five minutes later there are hairs everywhere. I swear he leaves hair with every step he takes. And he is even done shedding the winter coat. Not too long ago I was nearly in tears and decided for my own well-being to throw the vacuum cleaner into a corner, close the door and forget about it. I challenged myself to just live with it. I used to vacuum every day, sometimes more, but the closer attention I payed it the more obvious the mess became. My honey would sigh heavily and vacate the premises. I don’t blame him.

ButterBubbas
I’m a dog, I shed. Deal with it, boss.

Over the past few weeks I have had the camera with me a lot while working, but since I take so many photos and sometimes do a variety of different sessions in one day, I simply couldn’t share everything, even though I really want to. I would have to publish several posts a day and there aren’t enough hours for that. Editing alone can take anything from twenty minutes to several hours, depending on what vision I have for the images.

I mentioned earlier that we are forest owners, and I am currently awaiting more saplings so I can go out again and spend some full-days in the forest. Some of the wood we cut down we use to heat up the house and our own water. To do this, we have to put the timber through a cutter for the burner we have in a barn that used to house cows, pigs and horses. So a few weeks ago it was time to fill up the storage.

HeavyMachinery
One day I will learn to operate this, too, but for now my partner, Jay, gathers the timber from the forest.

While waiting, I played around with my macro lens a little, which I actually used to shoot all these photos with. Until I realised I had to get changed into my work clothes.

 

RunLottaRun
Run, Lotta, run!
TractorIncoming
Timber incoming.

Timberrr

The biggest pieces of timber are really heavy so I had no hope of getting those off the trailer. While Jay took care of those, I stuck to the small ones and operated the cutter. With the smaller pieces you can just let the timber go through, but with the thick trunks you have to continuously pause, reverse and forward until the whole thing is chewed up. Otherwise the cutter jams or the feeder gets clogged.

FeedThatCutter
I am constantly learning new things here and I love it. I have pushed a little for it, too, because I want to be able to step in whenever Jay’s father is unable to come here. The man is retired but after a lifetime as a farmer I can understand it has become a way of life, one you do not give up just because you have retired.
CutterOperator
And, of course, knowing we cut this wood together which keeps our taps running with hot water is a great feeling.
DustAhoy
I had to put the camera away after a while because the dust billowed like crazy and I didn’t want to risk even more dirt in my camera.

Since the sowing was done some weeks ago, we have been cleaning and greasing all the machines for storage until autumn. My job was to clean the cultivator, which I did last week. Jay had already gotten the worst of the mud off the big rollers, which made things much easier. I used a metal-bristled brush to get the rest off.

BrushingCultivatorRollers

BrushingCultivatorDiscs

BlowOffDust
I think half the dust landed on my glasses.

Jay and his father came driving past while I cleaned. They joked that I would be waxing it next. Haha Jay knows me well, of course, and my pedantic streak is the very reason I got the job. I did try to keep that in mind once I got the pressure washer out. This time of the year it isn’t uncommon for us to run out of water, especially if it doesn’t rain enough. But it sure was great fun!

WashingCultivator_BendAndAim

WashingCultivator_Crouching

Not one day is the other alike, and getting to move around and do so many different kind of things in one day is only one aspect I truly love about this work. And even if it changes in the future, right now I am having the time of my life, and the now is what counts. Yesterday I wasn’t a happy camper, but today, by sharing this with you I have counted so many things I am grateful for. If you could pick at least one thing in your life that you are grateful for, what would it be?

Thank you so much for reading and sharing your time with me. I wish you all a great remainder of this day. See you soon!

A Day In The Forest – Planting Trees

Good morning, everyone! I took a sort of break from running around with my camera yesterday, even though I did bring it with me to work. Work. I keep pausing at this in wonder.

When I sat back in “my office”–a pick-up truck in the middle of the forest–for a break I felt so blessed, so grateful, and so incredibly happy. Being forest owners, and having quite a bit of it, we have much to care for. We do cut some down, but we also plant new trees. Every year. It is time-consuming and not in the top-ten of my partner’s favourite things to do. So I told him that I will do it. All by myself. Why give a job away to someone else when I love the forest? Yes, it is hard work. Especially on hot, sunny days. No shade in a field of empty space where massive pines and spruces once stood. But it also feels good to do it. There is purpose in it. Rebuilding these once gorgeous forests for future generations. We give back what we take. Of course I want to be a part of that. I don’t have to–I want to. And when you burn for something, when it fills your entire soul with joy it isn’t work. It is just something that you do naturally anyway.

Saplings

PutItOn

GetItRight
All the saplings are watered so that bucket gets quite heavy.
SecureTheBelt
I had to tie the belt around my hips because the re-sizing mechanism is not working.
ReadyForWork
I have so many blisters on my hands now from continuously plunging that pipe into the ground today. The bottom part looks like a bird’s beak, kind of, and once it’s in the ground you drop a sapling into it, then step on a lever that pries the beak open.
ReadyToPlant
Little baby pines. Ready for planting.

Just before seven in the evening, my partner sent me a message: Still alive? And when he got no answer, because I had left my phone in the pick-up, he took the car and drove out to find me. I had just finished packing up when I saw the familiar Volvo coming around a bend. I may be passionate and enjoying myself so much I lose track of time, but I think I might be the slowest tree-planter, ever. Haha Either way, the job gets done and I get to spend an entire day in the forest. This was only the beginning, though. I think there are at least a couple of thousand to go.

I meant to set up the camera on the tripod to take some photos when I had only a few trees left but I will do that next time. After all, I am far from done. For now, thank you so much for reading, and see you soon!

OurForest
I won’t be alive when those little pine babies are this big, but my grandchildren might.