When Failure Leads To Discovery

Have you experienced that moment of failure that instead of leading to defeat spurs you onwards to try even harder? You set a goal for yourself, and even if you are met by dead ends at every turn, something wells up from deep inside and makes you dig your heels in. Isn’t it strange how sometimes falling down will leave you with such a sense of hopelessness you can’t find it in you to get back up, yet somehow, at other times, it is like a fire ignites within the deepest cavities of your being and you think oh, heck no. I don’t accept this.

Yesterday evening, I decided to go back to those lonely forest roads to make another attempt at finding my way to the lake. This time I asked Lilli if she would like to come along. She told me you know what my answer isOF COURSE! Loke tagged along, as well.

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vibrant-fern-close-up
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Gravel roads lead through this area, and we met a tractor with a big load of timber on our way there. I had already thought that maybe these forests are plantations. Although not all of them seem to be actively harvested. But it would also explain why it’s such a desolate place. Maybe the forest owners have wanted to keep it that way? These are just my own wonderings; in all honesty, I don’t know all that much about how these things work. Still I find it interesting that wilderness exists right in the middle of clusters of towns and villages. And it all surrounds this lake. It seems almost a little mysterious.

 

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We followed one of those forest machine-made paths and turned off a little before that brushy area I stopped at the first time. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the ground was covered in blueberry bushes, and they were so full of berries. I had given up on picking blueberries this season, but wow. They weren’t those little pearl-sized berries, either. They were enormous. And, of course, Loke decided it was an excellent place to have a poop. Haha In the end we had to return to the path when that whole blueberry field sat on a plateu, and the trees below it were so densely clustered I decided to search for another passage.

If I had followed that path the first time, and not stopped to stare at the thick brush of tall grass and raspberry bushes, I would have noticed it continued. So yesterday evening we wandered along that until I saw what were probably trails trampled up by deer or elk. Lilli, Loke and I followed in their steps, which lead us deeper and deeper into ghostly alleés of old and near bare-branched pines.

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forest-floor-spruce-foot-ferns
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What leads me to believe that this area has not been visited by any machines for a long time are the sizes of these trees, the thick and wild undergrowth, and the irrigation systems covered in green sheets of algea and tiny-leafed floating plants. A miniature landscape of moss and lichen flourished on the banks of these ditches. I have never seen anything like it. It didn’t occur to me to take photos of it because we were met by these at every turn, not even a hundred meters from the lake’s shore, and I became so disappointed I swore. Lilli said loudly MOM! Quit swearing so much.

In a last, stubborn attempt — we didn’t have too much left of daylight — I began to drag felled but thin pine logs which I threw across one of these irrigation ditches to create a bridge. They weren’t sturdy enough, though, and then Lilli started crying when I forbade her to cross. You didn’t even let me TRY! I pulled one of those traditional I am the adult and if I say they aren’t safe it is because they aren’t. I tried already! And she was wearing rubber boots which is not a good combination with slippery old wood.

The funny thing is that on our way back, I managed to lead us a different way than we came, and we got boxed in by these irrigation systems. So we had to jump. The one we crossed wasn’t as deep, nor wide and trecherous as those close to the lake.

rusty-old-tractor-cabin
55-250 mm / Lilli: I wonder what happened to the tyres?

Before getting back on the path, we stopped in a clearing when we saw an ancient, rusty tractor cabin. I took the opportunity to take some more photos while Lilli had a drink. I noticed then that I had forgotten to bring my 10-18 mm, so when I wanted to get some landscape photos, I pulled out the 18-55 mm that came with the camera. I haven’t used it since I bought the wide angle, and while I really was reminded in post-processing why I got the wide angle, I also realised that my photography truly has gotten better. So it isn’t entirely the lense’s fault. 😉

walking-among-pines-and-moss
18-55 mm / I kind of liked that I am blurred in a somewhat sharp setting.
moss-lichen-lingonberry-pines
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blurry-loke-among-moss-and-branches
18-55 mm / Loke rarely is still for more than a couple of seconds, and with the waning light and longer shutter speeds, it was a true challenge to capture him.
loke-in-the-forest
18-55 mm / But I did manage one! Lilli stood in front of him, talking, haha. 🙂
lilli-and-loke-in-the-forest
18-55 mm / Loke is in heaven when he has this many sticks and branches to play with. ❤
sunset-clouds-over-forest
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After this last shot we began our trek back to the car. My disappointment over not reaching the lake had completely settled and I was just so happy for this time with my daughter. As I write, she is most likely having candies and chilling with her grandfather in Rauma. Jay and I will go to get her tomorrow afternoon.

The lake still remains a mystery, but as I mentioned in the beginning, I am more determined now to reach its shores. There is another road that leads past it on the other side — a little further away, though — and I am going to explore what possibilities exist there next time. I do however believe I was meant to come this way first. If I hadn’t, and a clearer path indeed lies on the other side, I wouldn’t have ever discovered these old tree plantations to which I will return to take more photos of. I found them so incredibly beautiful in their ghostliness. Like old souls carrying secrets and wisdom from a time long gone. A kind of sadness clung to them, too, and I felt it as we made our way out of those alleés. I know I won’t be able to forget them.

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autumn-leaf-close-up
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By the time we got back to the car it was nearly dark, and we were all so ready to go home. I always get so tired after having been in the forest. I tried to explain it to Lilli once, because it isn’t the kind of sleepiness that makes me want to find a bed. Just so thoroughly content and relaxed. All that air and the smells of earth, recin — a sweet yet prickling freshness — and even the damp moss has its own charm. Oh, and the mushrooms. I absolutely love the smell of mushrooms. But. Lilli just gave me an odd look, wondering how I can be tired and not tired simultaneously.

I hope to be able to invite you to the next chapter of this search for those elusive shores soon. As I write this, Jay is getting the sauna ready, so I will wish you all a wonderful Saturday evening. Much love. ❤

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Searching A Path And Meeting The Mist

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.

ThroughTheVeil
I edited this quite heavily to try and emphasise the feeling I had out 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.

spider-web-dusk
With the light metering showing me heavy underexposure I was amazed at how well this turned out.

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.

mystical-oats-in-mist

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.

misty-fields

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.

dansande-älvor
I never believed mist to be anything other than airborne water particles. I dreamed and imagined, even wrote stories of how they appeared when gateways between our world and another opened up. Like the atmosphere of the two meeting and the veil being revealed. A young girl who followed a ribbon into the night and ended up in another realm. / Book in photo: “Tomtebobarnen” by Elsa Beskow

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.

stand-alone-in-the-mist

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.

mystical-shapes-in-mist

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. ❤