Helmikuinen hiihtotarina

February skiing story

It was snowing. Light flakes flew steadily and covered the old snow in a thick powdery layer where the skis floated invisible. There was no clear track left in my wake, instead the light snow settled over the dip of the ski and left a trail that could have been the path of any large animal.

Someone had dragged a bag behind them and it had left a gutter-like imprint on the project. The trail crossed the Kerojoki and I dared to cross the river at the route. In front, the Kuksvuoma opened up, split by the wooded saigas.

The stunted swathes gathered a light layer of powder snow on top of their former burden, softening and distorting the shapes of the trees.

The snowfall made the landscape strangely featureless; the forest bordering the ridge stood out as a vaguely broken, dark strip behind the white gauze.
The skis moved in the snow completely silently. The snowy forest muffled all sounds and the silence was downright deafening, only the falling of flakes on the clothes caused a small, barely distinguishable soft sound, besides my own breathing.
I wonder what attracts me so much here. It's much more attractive than skiing on a spring sun-kissed wind. Perhaps this white emptiness and silence brought the illusion that I was far away and alone. Not even the familiar fells were visible; I could have been anywhere in the desert and far away from everything.

I didn't really feel the connection, but I was reminded of a painting by the controversial Kitti artist Kalervo Palsa of a man skiing in a winter landscape with his face covered in snow. It's snowing and the picture exudes coldness and loneliness.
However, the winter landscape where the man is skiing is inside the room, and the window pane shows a summery yard landscape full of flowers and a little girl sitting on a swing.
Can loneliness and outsiderness be described more strongly?

I passed a few pine trees. Skiing inside them felt somehow cramped and whenever possible I went for the open boot. A couple of times I came across the sign of the old Talvitie: sticks nailed in the shape of a slanting cross on the side of a tree. Who had needed that route the last time.

I started approaching Lake Kukasjärvi and decided to turn back from its northern shore.

Halfway back, I wanted to rest and sat on the backpack stool to enjoy my snacks. The snow had stopped and the landscape was starting to become recognizable. The outline of Aakenus began to take shape on the eastern horizon, standing out only slightly lighter against the gray sky.

The silence was broken by the raven's Klong sound, and soon the black bird flew from behind the pond onto the stream. At my place, it fluttered its wings as if to greet me, or if it just wanted to check if I was ready to be pecked. Who knows the brains of the raven, the intelligence of that bird, and the ability to imitate different sounds I had often admired while in the forest. I had also been fooled by the deer's contact sound several times.

I gulped down the contents of the thermos, listened to the silence after the raven's voice and, like Lauri Jukola, looked at the crooked trees that the bunny-like snow had shaped into the most imaginative figures.

I felt the first chills. February's short day began to sink into twilight.
I strapped my backpack on my back and started skiing towards Linkupalo. The raven's bell-like voice rang in my mind for a long time.

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