Sonntag, 15. Januar 2017

New Year at the Countryside - New Year's Eve

On the morning of New Year's Eve, the sun finally showed up! It felt so good to enjoy the warmth on my skin while I was sitting on the wooden table, watching the snow outside of the window. It seemed like the last day of the year wanted to be something special and even the sun supported that idea. Tommo and his father made some special rye-berry porridge and I prepared a big pot of hot chocolate for everyone. 

It was such a strange feeling to walk out in the sun after breakfast knowing that this was the last day of the year. The past months have been so full of adventures and challenges, that it felt surreal to leave all of these behind. Isn't it strange, how much such a simple invention like time can influence our mind? All those days and month are not lost to us, but we get aware of time flying by very fast once more and our own mortality. 
I took my camera and walked a little around the farmstead. I watched the horse and the wide fields behind, the forests and the melting water dropping down from a shed. The sun was blinding my eyes but I didn't mind. What a beautiful morning!

The snow glittering in the sun is one of the most enchanting views. I closed my eyes while I was walking past the trees and the flickering of the shadows behind my eyes made me feel dizzy but excited at the same time. When I returned to the others we shot some hilarious selfies and I watched them running behind Dani, before I went back to the house to help Tommo with some outdoor work.

We spent the afternoon with preparing food for the evening, lingering outside and helping Tommo preparing the outdoor tub for our sauna later. I gathered woods for the house and helped bringing new hay for the horse. When we came inside from our work, the warmth hugged us and we became all very tired. The others went for a nap, while I sat at the piano, playing a few tunes. The house seemed so quiet, just a few lights burning, no sounds except me...and Tommo who fell asleep to my singing on the bench at the table. I walked upstairs and joined the cat in a big wingchair, stroking her while listening to the silence, thinking. I wanted to stop time. I wanted to stay here forever. This is what I've ever dreamt of. Such a shame I almost missed it. After a while, Tommo came up the stairs and joined me in my silence. 

We felt so tired but we didn't want to spend our last day lingering around in the wing chairs, so we dressed up when the others woke up and went out for a night walk in the woods. We've put on the snow shoes, lightened the storm lamps and made our way through the snow. The complete darkness wrapped around us and soon it was only the six of us, three small lights and the stars. When I raised my head, the stars were flickering between the branches of the trees. I've never seen so many stars before. There were a thousand of dots on that blue northern sky. We could see Venus, the milky way, different star constellations. I felt like I would drown in this ocean of stars every second. The shadows of Tommo and the others grew taller and taller on the trees and although we walked through the wilderness, I never felt safer, protected by the night.  
We walked in a circle and when we saw the lights of the house in the far, Tommo turned off the storm lamps and we fell in the snow, first laughing, but then we went silent, and watched the stars. I can hardly find words to describe this moment, but one might suit: infinity. I have never felt as infinite and happy as I felt in that moment laying in the icy snow somewhere in the middle of the Finnish nature watching the night sky. In this moment I felt so happy, I wouldn't have minded if it has been my last breath. 
We went back to the house and played a board game (I won once, hehe) before we had some delicious traditional Iranian kale soup for dinner. Afterward, we got ready for Sauna. The New Year's eve special was the hot tub under the open sky, which was pretty exciting, running through the cold snow to the hot water. I can still hear the laughter and yelling when we ran from the hot sauna through the cold air, and our squeaking when we sank into the hot water of the tub. 

Maybe I slowly turned into a Finn the past couple of months or I just had a very good day, but the others left the sauna after a while, while I stayed and enjoyed the warmth a little longer. In the end, Tommo and I were left in the hot tub and we watched the clouds moving above our heads, making stupid faces into the camera and forced Ati to bring us chocolate (and she did, what a luxury!). Twenty minutes before midnight we were still floating in the tub and to be honest, I didn't feel like leaving it ever again. But at some point, we decided to return to the Sauna, taking a shower and then going back to the house. I hurried not to miss midnight, but when I ran back the snowy path, the others already greeted me with a "Happy New Year!". I really missed it! I have been one minute late! But I didn't mind, because all I missed were the melancholic and sentimental ten seconds before midnight when I feel like I will loose all my memories in a second. Instead, I have been thrown into the new year right away, and I guess I can't complain spending it in a hot tub under the open sky.

When we all came together to clink glasses to the new year, we enjoyed the most delicious sweets and crackers, and many other goodies. I felt a little exhausted by the long sauna session but so happy and euphoric for the coming months. Looking from one to another I was so glad to be with those lovely souls. What a wonderful start into the new year!

And as if this wasn't good enough, I saw the northern lights even stronger than the night before when I went out again. They were above our heads, shades of blue and green. I didn't want to go to sleep that night, I didn't want to end that wonderful day. Around four o'clock in the morning, I fell asleep, knowing that my alarm would sing four hours later to remind me that we had to leave this place. 

In the morning, I felt miserable. I didn't want to go. I haven't felt this feeling for a very long time. When I was younger I felt like this when I had to leave my aunt or when we returned from a lovely vacation. I haven't felt so safe and home and good at a place like I did in Ilomantsi, and my heart broke when we left. The morning was pretty short. A fast breakfast, then we prepared our bags and the car and left around nine because an eight-hour drive laid ahead of us.
When we waved goodbye, I was looking forward to the long drive, because I had time to find out what I wanted to do when I return to Helsinki and my flat. Somehow this weekend made me asking myself what I want to reach this year and made me question what I was doing and why. But that is another story for another time.

How have you spent New Year's Eve?

Donnerstag, 12. Januar 2017

New Year at the Countryside - My Birthday

The second day we stayed at the cottage of my friend's parents, I woke up to the light coming through my window. I got up and watched the gray clouds outside and the forests in the far. It was so quiet. 

I heard some noises downstairs, and after I've read some morning birthday wishes I went down into the living room to see who was already up. Tommo greeted me with a hug and Happy Birthday while he was preparing the breakfast for us. He and his father made some porridge and the table was already filled with homemade treats. I was sitting on the fur, watching outside, feeling a little bit sentimental while the others were busy in the kitchen. It was a weird feeling being "alone" on my birthday, not with my family, how I was used to. Although this was the most magical place you could spend your birthday, the melancholia didn't want to leave me alone. We enjoyed the breakfast and were planning what we wanted to do first on that day. I went upstairs to have a quick talk with my brother who wanted to wish me a Happy Birthday as well and it cheered me up a little. I really felt bad for being such a grumpy cat that morning, so when the others went inside to prepare lunch after a short walk outside, I continued and walked a little further into the woods.

The forest looked magical. Every tree was covered in snow, I was sinking deep into the white walking on the snowy paths. I saw a few footsteps of deers when I turned to the right and stepped from the main road into the woods. Everything was silent. I have missed that quietness so very much. I stood there for a while, watched the treetops and the foggy tall trees, one next to each other. What is it about trees, that they are such a good company? While I was wandering around, enchanted by the view of the white fields, my eyes fell on the cottage laying there as a red dot in the white nothing, the windows filled with warm light. What a wonderful place! I went back and saw the others running around in the kitchen, while I was watching them from the outside. When I came in, they presented a traditional Iranian meal with kale and rice, which tasted delicious and reminded me of our Christmas dinner at home. 

After lunch we all went to our rooms for a quick rest. I used the time to see my parents, talking a little and unwrapping some gifts they sent to me. 
The next point on our adventure list was sleigh riding. Tommo gathered six sleighs and we stumped through the deep snow to one of the fields with a steady slope. And there the fun began. For me it was even more fun to watch the others sleighing down the hill, but I also enjoyed the ride downwards. Tommo and I went on a sleigh together twice and the second time we performed a pretty impressive stunt, haha. The sleigh was way too fast and way too small for both of us to fit, and when we arrived at the foot of the hill we got stuck in the snow and Tommo flew over me in a high arc and landed a few meters further in the snow, his beard covered in snow when he got up laughing. I just cowered and threw myself in the snow laying there for a minute while Tommo was laughing his ass off. After the quick shock, I started laughing as well and we gathered the sleigh and made our way up the hill again. 

I started to build a snowwoman, rolling a big snowball around in circles when the others decided to go inside again. It broke my heart not to finish my snowwoman but Tommo convinced me to come with them and finish it the next day. Sadly I never finished it, and so my snowwoman remained topless. Poor one!

We ended the day with "Birthday Sauna", as Tommo liked to call it. The little house in the snow looked so cute and the warmth did so good after the sleigh riding in the cold. It was the perfect end for such a lovely birthday. My mood had changed and I was glad to have such lovely people around me on my day. When I've put my night gown on and was sitting on my bed, I heard Tommo calling. I've put a jacket on and went outside. And there they were. In blue and green shades, the northern lights were visible on the horizon. Just a shade and not very spectacular, but as I stood there in the middle of the night, just a jacket over my night-gown, watching the sky, I had to smile and I remembered I was happy. It was a day to remember.

Thank you for everyone who sent me Birthday Wishes. Every single one made me so very happy that day! I am the luckiest girl to be allowed to have so many souls who wish me the best. Thank you so much! Kiitos <3