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Perch

Once again, I'm not exactly sure why and how, but I've been rather busy with my main work for the recent weeks. This week is has been; Monday, Wednesday and Thursday I left home right after the morning coffee and returned around 9pm - 10 pm. Tuesday was a bit easier. And luckily Friday was completely free, so I'm enjoying a three day weekend. Friday - that was yesterday - I noticed accumulated strain weighing in. At noon I bought a small load of timber from the local sawmill. After storing the timber for future use, I felt like taking a nap. Some good two hours passed, I woke up but didn't feel particularly energetic to do anything. So I decided to finally watch a DVD I borrowed from Sami nearly half an year ago. It was an old TV comedy mini-series with four episodes, called Alhola; adult men with no wives, parents already died, unemployed, living in a small countryside village where everyone seems to be slightly mad. (Hehe, didn't seem that remote from the reality I'm living in...) Even though it is in Finnish, the intro has no words and I'd guess it delivers the atmosphere, no language needed.

Today I woke up to the cat meowing. Usually they do that when they want to get outdoors, so I got up and opened a small window which they use as a cat door. But nope, he just took a sniff of fresh air but didn't want to go out. Well, maybe he just wanted to wake me up for no particular reason, which was fine for me. It seemed like it will be a sunny day, bright blue sky with no clouds. After my morning coffee and breakfast I fed the horses and packed my ice-fishing equipment. I walked down to the lake. Criss-crossing the snowy lake there were both human and animal tracks. I recognized at least skis, snowmobiles, hares, foxes and a likely otter. As the sun climbed higher, the temperature rose slightly above freezing. There is about 60 cm (2 feet) of ice, so it still safe to walk around.

Ice-fishing is about being in the right time in the right place. So, I went on trying different places, based on what I remember a maritime map telling about the depth gradient. I was after perch, and they typically like slopes of the lake bottom. Usually the perch move around in a flock, and if you spot a hungry flock, you can catch a good number of fish in a short time. But the trick is that they aren't active all day long. And when they are active, they usually swim around seeking for prey. The lake is big and there are numerous flocks of perch living there. So I walked around and tried several places, with no luck. Well, but with no wind and a pleasant sunshine it was so very relaxing just to breathe the fresh air with absolutely no hurry, no worries, no problems. I saw one snowmobile moving in the distance, otherwise I was all alone on the lake, and I always find it somehow relaxing and comforting to be in solitude surrounded by a big open space. It's like being at the same time both the centre of my personal cosmos, and yet being reminded how I'm just a tiny little creature in this vast beautiful mysterious world =)

I thought to myself "One last hole, then I'll go cook coffee by a lakeside camp-fire". Pretty soon I felt a fish poking the lure. I quickly pulled the line, but apparently the fish took evasive maneuvers and escaped the hook. Another try, and after a while I again felt the lure being poked. I waited for a short moment, I felt the lure being moved - good, now the lure is very likely inside the mouth of a fish. I firmly pulled the line, retrieving a smallish perch. Now, if I'm lucky, there is a whole flock of them, in which case the sheer number of fish caught will compensate the smallish size of each fish. I re-baited the lure and tried again. A short while passed with no activity, then there was another fish. But seemed like they weren't so very active - there was kind of a laziness in the way these two perch had caught the lure. When they are hungry and hunting, they attack a lure rather aggressively, and even the smaller ones put up a decent fight when the line is reeled in. Again, after a while, a third one. As I pulled the line, I thought that this one must be half-asleep, as it was just passively there, allowing itself to be hooked and hauled away. When I got it above the ice, I saw that this perch was of decent size. Ha, one more of this size, and it will make a meal for tomorrow! Alas, no more luck with that hole. Maybe the flock is someplace else, and these were just lone hang-arounds circling near the main flock? I tried another place nearby, but with absolutely no luck.

Oh well. Three perch, that will make the catch of the day. I packed my stuff and headed back. I picked a sunny spot next to the Takalahti bay, which is where the lake is nearest to my home. There is plenty of dry willow and fir branches around, so I made a small fire. I roasted sausages and melted snow to get water, and cooked coffee. After food and coffee for a moment I felt like returning back to the lake, to see if the perch are more active towards the evening. But I decided to head back home, hoping that when it will be pike spawn season, I could spend more days at the lake. I don't remember if I've already mentioned this, but even after adopting agriculture, Finnish people maintained some of their hunter-gatherer habits. Two or three times a year a group from neighbouring houses would head into the wilderness, spending a week or two fishing or hunting according to the season, and then returning home with a good load of yield. Although, for me it would be enough just to walk 10 minutes down to the lake, and spend two days there, fishing and camping. Or, at least, that would be a good step forward in answering the ancient voices calling in my mind =)

Ah, but anyway, while I was drinking my coffee and enjoying the bay-side scenery, listening to the birds chirping in the anticipation of spring, I felt myself free. Yes, free. Briefly returning to the themes of that earlier series of philosophical posts; I simply don't care if my desire to eat food by camp-fire is somehow predetermined by the play of molecules. I remember some incidents in my life when my freedom to move around was severely restricted, as an unfair punishment of something which I didn't really do, but anyway I found myself locked inside a space far more smaller than a jail cell. And spend there maybe an hour or two, but for a kid that felt like a rather long time. And the time spent inside that locked room, I definitely knew that I'd rather be somewhere else, minding my own business, being free to move around as I please. That is a raw and physical sense of being non-free. And if someone tells me, that it doesn't make a difference, as being forcefully locked inside a small room, or enjoying a bay-side camp-fire is all the same because everything is anyway predetermined by laws of nature, then I'd... I'd... well, maybe I'd lock up that person inside my cellar and leave him there for a day or two, just to ponder over the exact details of that line of argumentation =)

So, let me just accept that there is an entirely different feeling of being physically forced / restricted against ones own will, and being free of external pressure. That is a difference which matters to me. Yet, there is more to it. For example, in the absence of any external pressure I freely chose a place where I'm facing a lake to the south, and behind my back there is an uphill slope with forest. We have sometimes been talking about this with different people, and everyone agrees that for some reason this kind of a place is the ideal. I think it is written in our genetic heritage, as already 9000 years ago the stone-age population of Finland chose that kind of places to establish their homes or base-camps. In the ancient times these surroundings came with a lot of practical advantages - a southern slope is a warm place, protected from chilly northern winds, a nearby lake provides water, food and transportation. Nowadays it might be that things like that won't matter that much, if I only want to sit down for a hour or two, grilling sausage and cooking coffee. Yet, somewhere deep in my primitive memory is written this preference for a southern slope by a lake-side. And I feel fully free, when I'm free to follow this ancient desire. So, for me, one essential element of Being Free is the freedom to fulfill ancient inner desires which I never freely chose, but which are shaping my personality in a way I'm perfectly happy about.

Hare tracks crossing the Takalahti bay
Hare tracks crossing the Takalahti bay
The first catch of the day
The first catch of the day
The total catch of the day
The total catch of the day
Lakeside Freedom
Lakeside Freedom
tags: 
diary
homesteading
philosophy
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Comments

Aha, that is cool. :D I really miss ice fishing. It was a big deal when I was young, but it doesn't get cold enough for the rivers to freeze very solidly anymore. :(

We didn't use hooks, though. We had a big gang, which we would split in half. Half of us would cut holes across the ice, staggered so that we could cover most of the river, and then make snares of brass wire and attach them to the ends of long skinny poles. These we would lower to the bottom of the river.

In the meantime, the other half would gather heavy clubs and go up river and come down towards the people with the snares, beating on the ice with their clubs, to drive the fish towards the others. We'd catch them in the snares and yank several up on top of the ice. Then we'd trade with the drivers and go drive the fish back up to them, and back and forth until we'd gathered as many fish as everyone wanted.

We generally ice fished for the Channel Catfish and Spotted Suckers rather than perch, though. I don't see too many perches here in the winter, but maybe they are there and just not biting. I always thought when I was a kid that the perches burrowed into the mud and slept for the winter, but that seems kind of silly in retrospect, lol.

But maybe we will have a colder winter again sometime and I can give it a try again. Though I don't know who I would ask along anymore. Maybe I will have to try ice fishing with hooks, or maybe just putting out a trot line during the winter months.

I remember you mentioning that fishing method, so it was very interesting to hear in more detail!

Oh shoot, I repeated myself, haha. Sorry!

No problem =) And there is no sarcasm hidden in my comment - it really was interesting to read in more detail.

In our western culture there seems to be a widespread idea that circularity is somehow inherently bad - we'd like to see our argumentation, our stories, and our projects starting from a solid ground and then advancing towards the goal in a straight line without unnecessary sidesteps, without wasting time in making loops, without boring repetition or anything.

But I'm not that sure if there really is a reason to stick with that metaphor =) In my teenage years I read several books by Salman Rushdie, and it was somehow very enchanting how he tells a story in a circular manner - over the course of the book, same incidents get told several times, but every time each repetition adds something, or tells it from a slightly different perspective. I found that nice, it kind of a manages to deliver the subtle connections between past and present events. And Joseph Heller does something similar in his book Catch-22; he often returns to events he already told, just telling them from a point of view of some other character on the scene. It is a very nice way to illustrate how different people see the same event differently =)

Ah, so, all in all - I've noticed that I tend to repeat myself, too =) Sometimes on purpose, sometimes because I simply don't remember what I've already told. Maybe that is just natural for us humans =)

HI Erkka - I love the last photo. Makes me feel like sitting there to have a cup of cofee too. Haha

Anyway, awkward question: do we always should think in the consenquencies? It seems like they are excuses not to act. In this case, I mean moving to another country without thinking too much, otherwise it seems like it stops us (the overthinking)... ;/

Yeah I like that last photo, too =) It is taken with my mobile phone camera with timer. And since my phone doesn't have a tripod, I used a make-shift camera stand; I wrapped a piece of winter clothing on top of a tree stump, and then placed the camera so that it stands supported by the wrapped cloth. Because of that arrangement I really couldn't preview the picture, I just approximately placed the camera facing intended direction and took several shots hoping for one good shot, and turns out I got lucky =)

Ah hah - I'm afraid there isn't a simple answer to your question about considering teh consequencies. I'll try to point few things for you to think about:

- Are the likely consequencies severe and irreversible? If yes, then it probably is wise to ponder carefully before committing any irreversible big things. But if it more like choosing between two different paths, both paths probably having future forks to choose from, then it might be much more wise just to go with intuition and feeling without over-thinking.

- Sometimes it helps to turn the question around. Instead of thinking "should I do X", ask yourself "how would I feel if I don't do X? What are my reasons for not doing X?" And if it turns out that your reasons of not doing X aren't that strong, then just go ahead and do the thing X and see where it takes you.

- If you throw a rock at a window, the likely consequence is that the window will be broken and needs to be replaced. Yes, but most of the situations in our life are far more complex, and the consequences aren't easy to predict. So, ask yourself that how strong evidence you have for predicting the likely outcome of each decision. If it turns out that in any case the consequences are unpredictable, then just go ahead and follow your intuition.

- I think I described something like that also in the "Damn Right Honey"-post, where it is not that much about over-thinking on the rational level, but different layers and aspects of my emotional side disagreeing and weighing the different wishes and fears. I'd guess that if we look closely, many of our decision are like that. Overthinking might just be a symptom of having mixed feelings, so in such a case "just don't rationalize it and follow your heart" doesn't work, if your heart speaks in contradicting voices =) If that is the case, I suggest things like taking a long walk and letting your emotions to settle by themselves, and then eventually at a moment of any kind of clarity just making your mind and sticking with your decision. As, in life, there anyway will be different decisions with different outcomes and you can't have them all, and you can't avoid making choices. So sometimes you just have to wait for a right moment and then throw yourself to one unknown direction among the many unknown directions =)

Thanks so much, Erkka, for taking time for this. Loved it and it helped a lot!
BTW, what do you think about Minimalism - maybe do a psot about it, if you like? No rush for the answer, and no pressure to even write about it. But I have been reading about it and loving the idea, I;m actually already taking action too. And I suppose you are a minimalist?

Nice, I'm glad if my comment was of any help.

Hehe, I'm not sure if I'm a minimalist or not, since I'm not familiar with the term. But I've seen some people mentioning it when reducing the amount of stuff and items they own. So that makes me think that maybe in this context minimalism refers to something like living with a minimal / reduced set of material belongings. If that, then yes - it more or less describes my behaviour, although I'm not consciously following an -ism, it is more like a practical consequence of wanting to lead a low-budget life. When one doesn't have a lot of excess money to spend, it becomes more important to consider buying long-lasting durable goods etc.

Yeah, owning less stuff makes you feel freer too. But minimalism also regards everything else in your life, like relationships, even with family and friends, work, passions, health... you can take on minimalism in anything really. I found out about it when I was feeling really down, maybe depressed, and then reading about it opened my eyes, things started making all sense to me again. I sort of "found myself" in a way. It has been helping a lot figuring out the world and who I am. THe same happens when I read your blog. ;)

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