So 2013 has been a bit of a whirlwind so far – right after the new year, Brandon and I headed down to Helsinki to spend a few days ‘on vacation’ before he left to head back to the States. We tootled around the city, saw some sites, went to a history museum, but mostly just spent a lot of time together, which was great. Since then it’s been a snow sporting bonanza!
The Helsinki sightseeing highlight was a successful finding of the building that is the beard for my Finnish soap opera (see Salatut Elamat post)! I had expressed my obsession with this show to one of the Fulbright Center staff members at some point in the fall, which was when she told me she thought she knew approximately where the building was. So during this trip, I emailed my source, and she gave us the name of the neighborhood to search within. Much to Brandon’s ever-increasing chagrin, we spent 2 hours one day wandering around this posh neighborhood searching for this elusive apartment building. Our major problems were that 1) we were working off a tiny picture of the building’s facade from the show’s website I had on my phone, and 2) yellow buildings are super popular in this particular neighborhood, so quick street scans were not possible. Despite all of this, we found it!!! Thus began a photo shoot in the street outside the building:
We also welcomed Mags on the 5th, who is here in Finland for the month visiting and being way more productive getting her dissertation written than any person really should be while in the winter wonderland that is Finnish Lapland. Disclaimer: it is perhaps this cavalier attitude that is the problem when it comes to my current work ethic, but I seem adept at satisfyingly excusing my work-related laziness provided that I counteract it with activities like skiing, snowshoeing and kick-sledding! Rae Ellen and I got her away from her computer and out onto a frozen river in downtown Helsinki to check out the ice fishing, though, so there’s hope for her corruption… :)
After spending 2 days in Helsinki with Mags after Brandon left, we night-trained back home to Rovaniemi. Our first weekend back in Rovaniemi, we had an outdoor adventure in the nature area north of Santa’s village courtesy of Minna. So me, Minna, Manoj (Minna’s house guest), Mags, Lars (Minna’s postdoc), and Minna’s two dogs spent the majority of one Saturday snowshoeing in the forest!
My favorite (visual) part of winter here in Lapland is the impressive accumulation of crown snow-load [called ‘tyyky’ (tuu-kuu) in Finnish], a combination of snow and ‘hoarfrost’. Hoarfrost happens when humidity in the air solidifies and sticks when it encounters solid objects, like tree branches. Over time there’s a really impressive accumulation of hoarfrost on the trees, but the crown snow-load is due to the combination of hoarfrost and snow deposits on branches, essentially iteratively cementing a snowy blanket onto the tree. The crown snow-load can get so heavy that branches bend dramatically and/or snap (up to 4 tons on a single tree!), and often there’s more snow ON the trees than under them. Despite the danger to dendroids and power lines, the crown snow is really pretty, and I think I finally understand Christmas tree flocking! :)
More snow-related and Mags-centric escapades soon to follow! I’ve been a little too busy these days actually having the adventures (and working) to be writing about them, but I’ll hopefully catch up soon. :) This week I’m in the process of packing up to move to Kuopio. Kuopio (in the SE of Finland) is the location of my second official Fulbright affiliation – the University of Eastern Finland at Kuopio – where I’ll be working on some experiments in a lab there for the next 3 months. Onward and Upward!!