Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Living in a cabin with a "stranger"....

I must say I am quite envious of Matt and his cabin. It is a quiet, cosy and comfortable little place with all the amenities that even would make living there permanently no big an issue. Except maybe for shopping and schools.

As I said we slept in a little late the first morning. It was supposed to be a little vacation for both of us and there were no fixed plans, only a vague idea of what we might or could do. When we woke up one of my hopes had come true, sort of. There was snow on the ground. Not much and quite mushy, but still.
Matt relit the fire in the middle of the night, since it was getting pretty cold in the cabin. It hadn't been warmed for a long time and just a few hours in the evening was not enough to completely drive away the cold that hung in the cabin. My bunk was directly in front of the stove and I lay a while dozing off, whilst looking at the dancing flames and listening to the crackling fire.. I felt really at peace.

That link even holds a recipe!!
At breakfast Matt introduced me to Finnish rye bread. Much to my surprise it turned out to be exactly the kind of bread my grandma used to give m,e as a young boy, when I lived at their place! I remembered the technique she used to cut even, half a cm thick slices and I tried that too. All it takes is a sharp knife with a non serrated edge. You hold the bread vertically against your chest and just take a slice off. It was quite a powerful reminder and I felt overjoyed and quite moved that there I was; more than 2200 kilometers and 40 years away, but doing the very same thing she had done..... It even tasted the same!
In the meantime I was quite glad I could finally fulfill an at least 2 year old promise; I could hand Matt the Swedish snow anorak I had gotten him so long ago and that had been sitting in my mancave all this time.

Some pictures I took of the old house next to the cabin
The log walls are covered in woodshingles and the space between the windowpanes is filled with moss to absorb the moisture that gets in between the panes.

The weather was pretty much the same as the day before. Only the temperature had dropped a bit more and thus there was snow and sleet in the air too. We did not want to be cooped up all day, so Matt suggested he'd show me some of his land. We walked and climbed for a while through a clear cut, through a piece of forest, up a hill, down again, towards a nearby lake and via a dirt road back again. The woods are pretty much the same as at home and yet they felt different in a way. I saw much less animalsign for instance, even though Matt assured me that they were there.

This was pretty much the only blue we saw.....

By the time we made it back to the main road we were met by a yellow combo; one of the farmers from the area. Matt started talking with him and before I knew it I was sitting in the back of that combo, on the way to a fishing enterprise!
Yes, we were going fishing..... We drove for a while and then the driver, the farmer called Visa, got out and showed us a river dam and told us how they had caught up to 15 beavers in the direct area, not so long ago. I jokingly said that they'd make good mittens and he replied that their tail fat makes good fat for taking care of one's leather boots! The things you learn..... We drove a while until we reached a cabin and pier; Visa's lake cabin, We loaded the box with nets into the boat, jump started the engine and off we went..... Visa behind the wheel, Matt in the bow and I in the middle. Out on the lake the nets had to be lowered and tied together as the previous one sank down. Because of the wind picking up the boat's stern regularly drifted uncomfortably close to the nets and I lended a hand with keeping the nets straight, so that Visa could keep the propeller clear from the nets.

Like I said the temperature was low, just above freezing, the wind was picking up, it was starting to snow lightly and the nets and thus my hands got wet. Not very pleasant, but that just showed how hardy folks like Visa are. He never wore gloves nor did he bury his hands deep in his pockets. I did...
After the nets were out Visa looked at us and asked if we were cold. No, of course not! Good, than he would take us for a little tour on the lake. At first he kept a relaxed speed, but after a certain point he cranked on the throttle and we sped over the lake. It is hard to guess with little reference points nearby, by we were at least doing 50km/h and it got cold!!  I looked it up just now and according to windchillcharts the experienced temperatures would be about -8C! Small snowflakes/raindrops stung in our faces like needles and the eyes got watery. Now I did bury my hands with knitted gloves even deeper into my pockets!
But what a feeling! Whoah! Felt so alive! The boat hitting the small waves, the cold, the stinging, the air and shoreline rushing by. The clouds mostly (dark)grey, but occasionally brightening. And I recall that I noticed how different the smell was from the lakes back home. Weird, huh.
I was only wearing a t-shirt, wool sweater and my anorak, but never did get uncomfortable. The anorak blocked the wind very effectively! So glad I got those when I did! A good distance out on the lake Visa told us the lake would eventually extend out toward Kuopio, about 40 kilometers away. No idea what the name was of the part we were in. Try looking at Finnish names and you might understand why...

In the distance there hung a white curtain across the lake; snow and we were heading for that. But just before we were about to reach that we spotted some white spots near the shoreline to the right and Visa steered towards them. They turned out to be swans, with one acting a bit strange, lying still with its head mostly down or underwater. He set course toward them, slowly and gently to see if it might be injured. We could come quite close, up to about 5 meters, but there was nothing wrong with them. They took off. We could hear their wings move and we could hear the wind rushing past the wings. They do need quite a bit of runway and we watched them fly off; majestically with their feet walking across the water.... Only to land again a bit further away. We did not disturb them anymore and set course back to the cabin and pier.

Visa opened up the throttle once more and the previous scenery repeated itself again. The boat bobbing across the waves, 2 figures huddled up in the front, bearing the onslaught of wind and icy needles. This time it was full speed all the way and I was quite glad when the pier came into view. But what a wonderful bonus it had been!!! Some days are full of surprises and just turn out great! In hindsight I was glad I brought my wife's cellphone instead of the camera. I would not have been able to operate that one under these conditions!
But the day wasn't over yet, even though it was getting quite dark already at 14:30. Visa dropped us off at the cabin, where we quickly got the stove going again and we did some small fixes on the cabin before it got too dark. After that we made arrangements for dinner. Today the honor was mine, which I did not mind at all. I somehow like the cooking related to the outdoors most. One of my favorite outdoor activities. And I got to make my favorite recipe; chili! Well, actually there is no recipe. I have a bunch of standard ingredients that I mix in whatever quantities there are available and with whatever other ingredients might be around. I just hoped Matt would like it too. After a while the cabin filled with warmth and heartwarming odours and I have to say the meal turned out very well. Matt helping himself to a second round too did confirm that. There was still enough left for lunch the next day or so.
After a fulfilling meal Matt suggested I'd try a sauna. I had done that once, a long time ago and that experience was not the best one, but hey when you're in Finland.... I had the rye bread, did try a very good Finnish beer, called Olvi, so it would not be complete without THE thing Fins are known for, so I agreed. As he was busy firing up the sauna and getting it ready, I kept the fire going inside and continued reading Dick Proenneke's "One man's wilderness". Quite a fitting read...
After a while the sauna was ready and Matt briefly explained the how's and why's and off I went.... into the unknown heat! I have no idea how long I was in there, but after the initial unpleasant heat I started adapting, scooping up water from the wooden bucket and pouring that onto the hot stones and being amazed at the amount of sweat a body can produce. Occasionally I went out for a quick cool off and a drink of water and went back in again. Kept doing that until the bucket with water was empty. Then it was time to refill that bucket and a longer cool off, after which I poured the cool water over me. Amazingly refreshed and reinvigorated I went back to the cabin and Matt took his turn.
Thinking back to the hot tub I experienced back home and now the sauna..... I knew that would mean new buildingprojects coming up one day. We will have them both!!
Ohh... and ladies.... such a sauna will leave your skin feeling soft and peachy as a baby's butt!


  1. What a great story! You guys were really clipping along, too! Can't wait for the next installment now.

  2. Nice post, Ron! It's great to be able to relive our trip through your blog. :)

    I'm glad things turned out the way they did. That day had it all!


    1. Yeah, days can turn out much worse than that.

  3. O Ron, you got me with the bread and the sauna. :) Just what I miss most about home, rye bread and sauna!! Grandpa used to slice same exact way, against chest, thanks for reminding about that. Sauna, we used to go every Saturday, men first when it is very hot, after them, women and children for the cooler one, although you could control the heat with the steam. And feel so so so good afterward. If I had a chance to build any structure, I would definitely build sauna. And like I found out from the Finish museum, they used to give births in sauna or prepare bodies for burials in there too. Thank you for sharing these, very cool!

    1. Actually I miss both too.
      Could do with a thick slice with butter on top and a sauna right now.

  4. And if you let women go first they use all of the hot wash water and forget to add wood into stove... :D

    1. Sounds like you have some experience Kai. ;)