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A night out

This week I've been back to my ordinary working schedule. Customers for massage, some coding for the mill, one day off for my house renovation. And, planning for UrW while driving to customers. On Friday after the work I returned home at 9 pm, feeling slightly tired. I knew that typically I would browse the internet for a while, listen to some music and collapse to bed, to sleep long enjoying the idle Saturday morning to come. Nothing wrong with that, but this time I decided to take an another approach. So, on Friday night I packed my stuff and walked down to the lakeside woods.

I had a led light, as otherwise it would've been hard to find my way in the darkness. Soon I found the place which has been my favourite for this year. I set up a hammock in between two trees. I placed a sleeping bag in the hammock. Wearing full winter gear I slid into the sleeping bag. The temperature was slightly below freezing, the air was fresh and clear, and it was all silent. Laying on my back, watching the sky I could see the trees as dark silhouettes against the starry sky. Luxury! I remember when I was still living in a city, I often went out into the nearby woods - but it was never completely silent, one could always hear the city humming in the background, the trucks driving up and down the highway. But here the silence is as deep as the sky - it feels somehow infinite, awesome, relaxing and comforting. All the man-made noise gone, the real silence feels like the fabric of nature itself. For me, listening to the silence helps to feel more connected to the bare essential basics of life and existence.

Breathing the fresh air I didn't feel that tired any more. Instead of deep sleep I floated in some kind of half-awake / half-asleep state. Until I felt myself fully awake, although the world was still dark and silent. I tried to stay still for a moment, hoping to just fall asleep - but instead I started to feel slightly chilly. So I decided to get up for a while. I started a fire, and grilled two sausages for a night-time meal. I sat in the warmth of the fire, watching the sky. There was an occasional shooting star, The Big Dipper hanged overhead, being merrily tilted. The fire went out and I climbed back to the hammock and into the sleeping bag. And fell asleep almost instantly.

The next time I woke up it was morning twilight, and there was a little bird singing in the distance. I re-started the fire and cooked coffee. I enjoyed the early morning coffee with two sandwiches. After an unhurried breakfast I packed my stuff and placed them next to a tree. I took the ice-fishing equipment I had brought, and headed out to the lake. The snow is almost all gone, but the lake is still all frozen over. But since it has been several warm sunny days, I couldn't know for sure how thick the ice is. So I decided to go safe and walked right next to the shoreline. When I reached my intended destination, I went bit further out and made a hole in the ice. The ice was still surprisingly thick, but I could see that the structure was not that solid any more. It was something like 30 cm, and I could tell that the top half of it has been almost slush-like. But the freezing night-time temperature had frozen it back to more solid state, so early in the morning it should be safe to walk almost anywhere.

Earlier in the week one of my customers said that some years they have had great success with ice-fishing perch in mid-April, when they start to gather near their spawning places. So, they come to shallow waters, and they are busy eating to boost up their energies before the active spawning time begins. So I had chosen an area which could meet those requirements - a semi-shallow region in between the deeper lake basin and the shallow bay waters. Scattered around the lake there were about half a dozen of swans. They had chosen spots which are the first ones to catch the early morning sunlight - ie. they were on the opposite bank of the main lake, and I was on the East, which was still in the shadows. There was no luck with the fish, hole by hole I moved around in a big semi-circle trying different spots on the same area. Slowly the sun climbed higher, and the swans were calling at each other. One pair of swans took off, flying low, apparently heading to the river which is already free of ice. A pair after a pair the swans flew away. There was a woodpecker drumming a tree. And a lone little bird singing with a beautiful melody - I couldn't tell the species, the melody wasn't instantly familiar to me. But no luck with the fish.

The sun climbed above the treetops, and I enjoyed the warm sunlight on my face. I thought to myself that this is very likely the last time for this spring when I dare to go out on the ice. So, since I'm already here, maybe I should try an another spot - the one near a small skerry, which was where I caught fish the last time. I was slightly worried about the ice, but decided to walk carefully. When I was getting closer to the skerry I noticed that the structure of the ice was a bit different; there were bigger areas with a lot of small cracks. Now it was still frozen, but I was slightly worried that what happens after one or two more hours of sunlight - if the cracks melt, it means that even though the ice is still 30 cm thick, it will be separate palm-sized pieces packed next to each other. And that kind of ice won't support a weight of a human - I didn't want to risk finding myself swimming in a mixture of slush and ice-cubes. So, I made one hole right there - no luck. I decided not to go further and not to spend more time there, as every fifteen minutes of sunlight contributes towards weakening of the ice.

I returned to my first spot, hoping for the fish to be more active now when there was broad daylight. But nope, I couldn't detect any activity at all. Either the fish aren't there, or they aren't biting. Hehe - in my mind I compared this to raising ones fishing skill in UrW. It is the same in the real life, too; if you want to catch fish more reliably and more often, you have to go by trial and error - these not-a-single-catch fishing trips aren't completely in vain, as each trip leaves you with valuable experience. You learn about the formations of the lake bottom. Trying different times of a day, over the years you should gain more experience to determine that when is the best time to go try your luck. So, I greatly enjoyed my experience, and headed back home.

I collected the rest of my stuff and walked a small path in the woods. And I thought about my night-time meal of grilled sausages. I had bought the sausages exactly for a back-up food, in case I don't catch any fish. But, since I was lazy, I bought just some industrially produced stuff from the super-market. A grilled sausage is such a basic camping food - an easy alternative to pick. But what would be the other alternatives, if I'd like to further reduce buying and consuming industrially processed meat? (I'm out of home-grown mutton). Well, obviously; catching fish would be the best alternative - all local, fresh, natural and sustainable. Small fish roasted with sea salt - it takes a bit longer to cook, but it is just as delicious as a sausage. Then what about a back-up for unlucky fishing trips? Hmm, there is a nearby small farm where they grow wild boar. Even though the boar are in a pen, they can still move around freely, dig the soil etc. I know they sell canned board meat - maybe I could visit them one or two times a year, buying a small stock of canned meat?

Awake at night
Awake at night
The sun at the treetops
The sun at the treetops
Ice reflecting the sunlight
Ice reflecting the sunlight
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Comments

Always inspiring to hear your stories and also makes me wonderous to know that there are some truly peaceful places left on this earth. Still wish I could visit. Maybe someday soon.

In the morning when I was out at the lake, I could hear distant noises of cars and trucks crossing a bridge over the nearby river. But near a city that kind of hum was much more louder and non-stop.

I don't remember if I have told this already, but when I was living in the city, I once got a survey asking about preferences. And one of the question was: "Which services you'd like to have located less than 100m from your apartment?", and it gave a list of things like "supermarket, pharmacy, bus-stop, kindergarten" etc. I didn't tick any of the pre-defined alternatives, but instead I wrote "A Forest" =) Nowadays I'm so happy to have my tiny yard all surrounded by nice woodlands.

Ah, but yes - in my world there aren't "expiration dates" =) People are welcome to visit any year which happens to suit their personal lives.

It's good to see you supporting your local farms. Many here in America are getting back to that. Regarding meat - goat dairy farms(if you have any in your area) often sell their boy goats and goat meat is easy to prepare in a tasty way.

There aren't any goat dairy farms that I know of. I just checked the internet, and it says in Finland we have total of 30 farms rearing goats. And as far as I know, none of them aren't located anywhere near me =)

Well, but there's a somewhat similar effect with backyard chicken coops. I think it has been a growing trend in many European countries, Finland included. Several of my friends have small flocks of hen to keep them self-sufficient with eggs. And sometimes the hen also hatch the eggs - which then leads to a surplus of young roosters. Since I don't have hen, I can host a flock of roosters; they don't fight that much when there aren't hen around to fight for. So, seems like despite quitting my tiny sheep operation, I'll anyway be producing a little of home-grown free-range meat.

Well, maybe I could still stock some cans of boar meat, hehe =)

chicken meat works! We have too many roosters here and will be harvesting the extras sometime soon. Haven't had any luck with hens raising the chicks for several years. None of the hens have gone broody but they're still young hens.

I don't have that much personal experience with hen, but to me it seems that there are a whole lot of things affecting their parental habits. Then, on the other hand, especially with free range hen, the population might get slightly out of control in a single summer =)

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