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• 1 •


CONTENTS MAP OF KUUSAMO

4

POHJOLA GUILD

6

2 1. WHAT ARE THE PEOPLE OF KUUSAMO LIKE?

COME ALONG!

9

DO YOU HAVE THE KUUSAMO FACTOR?

10

ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WILDERNESS

12

2. HOW TO DRESS LIKE A LOCAL?

MYSTERY OF A PARTIAL SWEATER

14

HOW TO DRESS IN THE ARCTIC STYLE

18

3. 3. WHAT TO PUT ON THE PLATE?

WHEN I TRIED THE KUUSAMO DIET

20

4. WHAT CAN YOU COME ACROSS?

YOU ARE THE CENTRE

25

WHAT IS HIDDEN IN KUUSAMO

26

5. WHAT TO SEE AND DO – AND WHERE?

DID I VISIT KUUSAMO OR DID KUUSAMO VISIT ME?

35

HERE YOU CAN SEE AND EXPERIENCE THE LIFE IN THE WILDERNESS

36

ON THE RUSSIAN BORDER AND BEHIND IT

42

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• 3 •


RIISITUNTURI NATIONAL PARK

RUKATUNTURI FELL

LAKE KITKAJÄRVI

KUUSAMO

DISTANCES

• 4 •

Oulu 218 km Kokkola 413 km Cairo 3996 km Narvik 708 km Kuala Lumpur 8898 km


KIUTAKÖNGÄS RAPIDS OULANKA-PAANAJÄRVI NATIONAL PARK

VIENA KARELIA, RUSSIA

RIVER KITKAJOKI

RUSSIAN BORDER

NÄRÄNKÄ • 5FARM • WILDERNESS


RAIDERS OF THE LOST SAMPO

EVERY NOW AND THEN, mankind receives a thrilling puzzle to

solve, such as the Atlantis. An equally juicy nut to crack is the Sampo, the magical mill that grinds out riches in the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. The events of the Kalevala revolve around the conflicts and marriages between two nations, Kalevala and Pohjola. Pohjola was located somewhere in the region of the Gulf of Bothnia. For the people of Kalevala, it represented the dark side of the world and was considered cold and dangerous.The Sampo was held by the people of Pohjola. What was the Sampo in reality? This is what we want to find out. For the purpose, the Pohjola Guild will set out on an expedition to Pohjola. We will familiarise ourselves with foreign habits. We will face phenomena unknown to all other people.We will eat foods that others have not tasted. Perhaps we will even discover the Sampo, the treasure of Pohjola. Come join our journey and guild!

WITH ADVENTUROUS REGARDS,

Your guides, Marco and Alice

• 6 •


MY NAME IS MARCO, and I’m an engineer and archaeologist. My mother, a palaeontologist specialising in the arctic regions, always used to admire the tenacity of life in severe conditions. My father was a pilot who used to fly food and other necessities to arctic research stations in an ancient – but, to a young boy, a grand – plane. I decided that one day I would also see the wild northern lands. And find the Sampo, the miracle machine.

MY NAME IS ALICE, and I’m an anthropologist. My father was a professor of Baltic-Finnic languages and a translator of the Kalevala. According to his theory, the Sampo was really the underlying strength embedded in the culture. I was looked after by an elderly housekeeper from Northern Finland. I always wanted to go off on an adventure in the forests of her home country and continue my father's work in solving the mystery of the Sampo.

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• 8 •


1. WHAT ARE THE PEOPLE OF KUUSAMO LIKE?

ALICE GUILD GUIDE

COME ALONG! ­~

Määttä, Määttä, Lämsä, Määttä, Lämsä, Lämsä, Lämsä... I read family names on the gravestones. It looks like many people in Kuusamo are related to each other. A lot of people died in Kuusamo in the 1860s, entire families in one pass. A MINISTER WALKED along the dirt road.“What terrible thing happened in the 1860s?” I asked. “Several years of crop failure, during which many people of Kuusamo starved to death. It is like that here – nature gives, nature takes."

Apparently, the minister had noticed that I had counted the family names of Määttä and Lämsä. “Although many natives of Kuusamo have the same family name, genes have flown here from all Finnish tribes and even from Swedes and Germans. Until the Middle Ages, Kuusamo was part of Lappmarken, which was inhabited by the Sámi. By the 17th century, the settlers had started to take over Kuusamo and some of the Sámi moved further north and the others merged with the newcomers. Consequently, some of the natives of Kuusamo also have some Sámi blood in their veins. Kuusamo is a meeting place for all people and all things," the minister told me. “By the way, are you single? It would be nice to get your genes here as well. So keep your eyes open! The natives of Kuusamo are the kind of people that all Finns would like to be – down-to-earth, practical, relaxed, persistent and independent. And they have a good sense of humour.” His kaftan fluttering, the talkative minister went on his way. Alice Lämsä. Alice Määttä. Hmm… quite good.

• 9 •


DO YOU HAVE THE KUUSAMO FACTOR? Is there a Jahti-Jakt hunting suit in your wardrope?

YES

NO

Do you also have rubber boots with felt socks?

YES

If not, would you like to have one there?

NO

IT IS CLEAR: YOU DEFINITELY HAVE THE KUUSAMO FACTOR!

Have you built your home yourself?

YES

Do you put squeaky cheese (“leipäjuusto”) in your coffee? YES

IF YOU DON’T COME FROM KUUSAMO, YOU MUST COME FROM ITS NEIGHBOUR.

YES

NO

NO

Do you know a good cloudberry site?

NO

YES

YOU REPRESENT THE KUUSAMO GENE POOL IN AN EXCELLENT WAY!

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REAL KUUSAMO FACTOR, NO DOUBT!

NO

SOME BRANCH OF YOUR MENTAL ROOTS IS LOCATED DEEP IN THE ROCK OF KUUSAMO.


Is your or one of your close relative’s family name Määttä or Lämsä? YES

NO

Do you like hiking in the wilds?

Have at least three different insect species bitten you?

NO

YES YES

NO

DESTINY HAS ISOLATED YOU FROM THE KUUSAMO FACTOR. VISIT KUUSAMO OFTEN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LOSE THE REST OF IT!

Have you sometimes driven a Toyota Hiace?

YES

Have you driven on an ice-covered lake?

NO

Can you cut grass with a scythe? Do you hunt or fish?

NO

YES

YES

NO

YES

YOUR KUUSAMO FACTOR HAS STARTED TO DEVELOP WELL. BY MARRYING A PERSON WHOSE FAMILY NAME IS MÄÄTTÄ OR LÄMSÄ, YOU WILL GET OFF TO A FLYING START.

YOU ARE A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR DEVELOPING THE KUUSAMO FACTOR.

IF YOU WERE NOT BORN WITH THE KUUSAMO FACTOR, YOU HAVE SOMETHING IN THAT DIRECTION ANYWAY.

ONLY A FEW MORE VISITS TO KUUSAMO AND YOU WILL BE A NEAR-NATIVE.

Have you caught “the Wise Fish of Kitka” (“kitkanviisas”)?

NO

NO

Do you have a sharpening stone? YES

NO

THERE IS SOME KUUSAMO FACTOR IN YOU. YOU JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT.

YES

THE KUUSAMO FACTOR RADIATES FROM YOU!

BY EATING “THE WISE FISH OF KITKA” YOU WILL RAISE YOUR KUUSAMO FACTOR TO AN OBVIOUS LEVEL.

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THERE IS NOT MUCH KUUSAMO FACTOR IN YOU. STILL, YOU ARE WELCOME IN KUUSAMO!


ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE

WILDERNESS ~

˜˜PEASANTS IN THE WILDS As to peasants, a picture of a lush country village with cows and clucking hens comes into mind. However, the Kuusamo peasant was different. He lived way out in the wilderness, where the short summer of the north gave him one harvest – if at all. The Kuusamo peasant not only obtained his livelihood from the cultivated land and the cattle but also from the surrounding wilderness. He fished, hunted, picked berries, did forest work for log-floating companies, sold butter, reindeer meat and furs, and transported freight with his reindeer in the winter. When going to Oulu, for example, the reindeer sleigh was loaded with furs, and on the return trip with spirits. The form of housing was special, a family yard. The same yard was home for several close relatives and their families. Each family had their own dwelling house but some of the outbuildings were shared. The inhabitants also worked together, so there was an expert for each task. Even today, Kuusamo is sparsely populated and there is wilderness in every direction. The distance from home to school may be dozens of kilometres, but it is covered quickly as there are no traffic jams on the roads. Oh, well, sometimes reindeer block roads…

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˜˜LUMBERJACKS At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the rivers in the current national park were log floating channels, along which the huge tree trunks travelled to the White Sea and finally to England. The stream took the logs on which the lumberjacks stood and herded the trunks with their hooks. The lumberjacks travelled through the surging rapids by boat. They lived in cabins built along the sides of the river and got some of their food from nature’s bounty. The lumberjack had special clothing: a wide-brimmed hat, boots and a high-collared shirt with an old pair of mittens sewn onto the shoulders. The mittens functioned as padding against which the lumberjack could hold his log driving hook. A pack of cigarettes often peaked out of the breast pocket. On his back the lumberjack had a rucksack or a bark knapsack, where he carried his personal belongings. Under his arm he carried rolled bedclothes. The unmarried lumberjacks used to advertise their marital status to the village girls by wearing a scarf. Today, the lumberjacks’ tradition and skills are fostered in the Käylä lumberjack competition on the Käylänkoski Rapids on the second weekend in July. One of the events is whitewater rafting standing on a log.

˜˜MERCHANTS In the 18th and 19th centuries, many peasants were also grand merchants. They sold reindeer, furs, birds and fish in the towns. Kuusamo has a long history of functioning as a crossroads of trade routes – as early as in the 12th century it was a target in the long distance trade carried out by the mighty Novgorod.

˜˜SETTLEMENT FARMERS After the Second World War, more than 400,000 Finns had to quickly leave their homes in the areas that were handed over to the Soviet Union. These people had to start everything from scratch. They definitely needed the famous Finnish “sisu” - i.e., grit and stamina - when a new home farm had to be cleared on a mire. Because of its location by the current Russian border, a lot of evacuated people were placed in Kuusamo.

˜˜A LOCAL CALLED “KÄYLÄN IIKKA” Kuusamo has attracted visitors since the 19th century. The main attraction has always been the wilderness, where the locals have been happy to serve as guides. One of them was Iikka Mustonen, or “Käylän Iikka” by his “professional name”. This hard-working man acted as a forest ranger, a post stop clerk, an innkeeper, a miller, a hunter, a fisherman and a father of nine children. Above all, he became famous for his whitewater rafting skills in the 1940s and the 1950s. Käylän Iikka took adventurous tourists, including Urho Kekkonen, the former President of Finland, to experience the surges of the Käylänkoski Rapids. He was a pioneer - one of the first whitewater rafting entrepreneurs in Finland. Kuusamo is still known for its whitewater rafting adventures. Käylän Iikka's legacy is also still alive, as his relatives work in the legend's footsteps in the tourism business.

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2. HOW TO DRESS LIKE A LOCAL?

ALICE GUILD GUIDE

MYSTERY OF A

PARTIAL SWEATER ­~

It was -28 °C. I plucked up my courage and sneaked out. The cold stroke its claws like a witch but it did not worry the locals, who just carried out their tasks normally. Some of them went arm in arm with toddlers. I shivered.

• 14 •


WHAT IS THE SECRET OF THE KUUSAMO NATIVES? I STARTED TO SHADOW a young woman. We arrived at a day care

centre’s hallway, where a three-year-old girl rushed to hug the woman. She started to dress her child. First she took off the girl’s shirt and jeans. Apparently, the arctic dressing process starts from zero - i.e., from the skin! The woman packed the girl in many layers of clothes. I counted four layers: 1) underwear, 2) another set of underwear, 3) middle layer, the name of which I don’t know, and 4) a snowsuit, a cap, the mittens and the boots. Layer number three included the strangest item of clothing I had ever seen: a mere sweater collar that contained some of the chest and shoulder parts.The collar was rolled up in front of the face. It was like a Hollywood prop! A red woollen collar stuck out under the woman's chin as well. I wonder if the collar continues as a shirt or is this a trick? I decided to ask her directly. The collar was a trick – except that it really is a piece of clothing, "kauluri" in Finnish. Freely translated, it is “a thing that takes care of the neck”. Every square centimetre of the skin must be protected from the cold. The woman told me that the children’s dressing ritual often included a need to go to the toilet right after all the layers had been put on, which meant that the whole ritual had to be carried out again. And I was also told that there was no bad weather, just bad choices of clothing.You will also become hardened to the cold. For example, winter fishermen have to work without gloves.Their hands get used to the cold in about two weeks and will no longer go numb.

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HOW TO DRESS IN THE

ARCTIC STYLE 1.

UNDERWEAR

ANOTHER SET OF UNDERWEAR

2.

Stockings

Underpants

Undershirt

3.

MIDDLE LAYER Thermal pants

"Partial sweater"

Woollen socks

Thermal shirt

4.

SNOWSUIT, CAP, MITTENS AND BOOTS

Cap Mittens

Boots

Snowsuit

5.

READY FOR WINTER PLAY!

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Air insulates heat. Animals ruffle their fur or feathers in the cold in order to form a warm layer of air. The hairs on my arms stood on end in the intense colds of Kuusamo – a memory of my forefather, who was even hairier than me. Because my fluffy fur disappeared in the turmoil of evolution, it must be replaced with the airy layers of clothes.

BABIES IN THE INTENSE COLD AND OTHER WONDERS The freezing cold weather is also a joyful and useful thing. Finns utilise it this way: ˜˜ Babies are put in a pram to take a nap outside, even in temperatures of -20 °C. They are dressed in very warm clothes and only the tip of their nose is left uncovered. The parents touch the tip of the baby's nose to see if the baby is cold. In this way, the babies sleep soundly and take long naps. ˜˜ The accrued ice is melted from the freezers. The frozen foods are taken outside in a basket, where they remain frozen for the time the freezer is turned off. ˜˜ Carpets and bedclothes are taken out to be aired. They may even be spread on the snow. ˜˜ In former times, the house was left unheated for one week and the family moved out to the sauna in the yard. Bedbugs and other parasites died in the cold house.

THE NATIVE MALE OF KUUSAMO IS A HUNTER-BUILDER The physical lifestyle in middle of the wilderness can still be seen in the appearance of the native male of Kuusamo. He wears a brown or green hunting suit and rubber boots, in which there are removable felt “socks”. These felt socks and rubber boots keep their feet warm and dry in all weathers. The native male of Kuusamo often drives a Toyota Hiace, with things like trolling equipment or building materials in the back. Like many other Finnish men, the native male of Kuusamo builds a house for his family with his own hands.

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3. WHAT TO PUT ON THE PLATE? ALICE GUILD GUIDE

WHEN I TRIED THE

KUUSAMO DIET ­~

The cottage door clicked locked. In the very same second, Keys! flashed through my mind. I had locked myself out in the nocturnal wilderness. An uninhabited forest, dangerous rapids, bloodthirsty mosquitoes, bears, wolves – and I was starving. I stood on the steps with a garbage bag in my hand and hyperventilated. CALM DOWN, ALICE! What would the native of Kuusamo do? He

would go to the forest. The path wound deeper into the forest. I saw a lush blueberry tussock. In no time I had picked a handful of big aromatic blueberries, the edible gemstones of the wilderness. Somebody may have eaten from the same tussock one thousand years ago. An incredible thought! There would be plenty of food in the wilderness to fill my stomach: berries, mushrooms, fish, game, herbs… There was a rippling brook on the slope. The water tasted better than any water I had ever drunk. L’eau d’Oulanka-Paanajärvi – the freshness of the Ice Age. I spent the night under a large spruce. Before falling asleep, I thought that had there been a man from Kuusamo beside me, he would have dug out his fishing equipment and camping stove from the back of his Hiace. Then we would have enjoyed the fresh fried fish together and admired the sunset.

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• 21 •


TRY THE LOCAL DELICACIES ˜˜VENDACE A small fish related to salmon, found in the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. The fishermen usually aim to catch large fish, but the smaller the vendace the better. The small 5-7cm vendace are called “needle vendace”. The most famous of them - the “Wise Fish of Kitka” (“kitkanviisas”) – lives in the big, clean Lake Kitkajärvi in Kuusamo. Why is it so wise? It faithfully stays in its home lake, even though it could freely go off to Russia for a holiday. Best deep-fried or fried on a pan.

˜˜VENDACE AND POTATOES (“muikkupottu” in Finnish) Start boiling potatoes in a pan, and soon place the vendace on top of the potatoes. Finally, add a dash of cream and a little bit of butter. Eat with a sauce made of onion and melted butter. Delicious!

˜˜BLAZED SALMON COOKED BY AN OPEN FIRE (“loimulohi” in Finnish) An old, lovely way to prepare salmon. Blazed salmon is often cooked by a group of people telling stories by the fire. The salmon fillets are seasoned with salt and nailed to wet alder planks with wooden pegs, which are then placed in a vertical position by the open fire. The cooking may take hours, but the result is crispy on the surface and juicy inside.

˜˜CLOUDBERRY (Rubus chamaemorus) A yellow, very aromatic berry. Often grows on nearly impassable, remote mires that are populated by bloodthirsty insects. Ripe for picking in JulyAugust. Among the most desired bounties of the Finnish wilderness - you can earn a tidy sum of money by picking and selling them. The cloudberry sites are big secrets that nobody wants to reveal. Cloudberries are used for making jam and liqueur.

˜˜SQUEAKY CHEESE (or “bread cheese”; "leipäjuusto" in Finnish) An unripened cheese made from cow’s milk that is baked to give it the brown marks. Flat and round like a pancake. Squeaks on the teeth. In former times, the squeaky cheese was given as a present to relatives and good acquaintances. The cheese may also have been given to a good blacksmith or other craftsman. Using the fingers, the cheese was broken into cubes and put in a cup of coffee, before being eaten with a spoon. Today it is most often eaten with cloudberry jam.

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˜˜RIESKA A thin, flat, unleavened bread. Rieska is different in different parts of Finland. In Kuusamo it is made from barley flour. In the olden times, rieska was a festive delicacy, which was cut with the best knife in the house and eaten fresh. Rieska was often accompanied by fish, as well as a porridge made of milk and barley or rice grits. Today, rieska is usually bought from food stores, but it is also baked at home. The bread was dried on a wooden pole attached to the ceiling, which preserved it for months.

˜˜COMB SCONE (“kampanisu” in Finnish) A soggy pastie? No, a highly valued traditional pastry that has a tender structure and a simple, delicious taste. Accompanied by coffee, for example. Each village has its own idea of the orthodox way of making comb scones. Consequently, you can tell the origin of a comb scone from the number of spikes and the amount of sugar used.

˜˜REINDEER MEAT Very healthy, low-fat meat. The reindeer roams free and gets most of its food from nature. Its growth is not artificially enhanced. In the spring, reindeer meat is dried, which has been the custom since the Middle Ages. The salted chunks of meat are hung outside under the eaves or on the roof covered with a net. The special Nordic spring weather – the alternation of intense cold and thaw, the strong sunshine and the wind – does its job in a few weeks. Dried meat can be preserved for a long time, so it has always made excellent snacks for the Kuusamo people.

˜˜REINDEER MILK Kuusamo is one of the few places in Finland where reindeer are still milked. Reindeer milk is used for making pancakes and different kinds of cheese. The thick, cream-like milk contains about 20% fat. A reindeer provides about one decilitre in one go, and the female’s milk production period only lasts a few months after calving. So, it is a rare delicacy.

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• 24 •


4. WHAT CAN YOU COME ACROSS?

MARCO GUILD GUIDE

YOU ARE THE

CENTRE ­~

I felt it was time for some action. I grew up in a big city, so I was not yet used to the vast, silent wilderness. I decided to check out the centre of Kuusamo. I MET A YOUNG woman. “Excuse me, where is the centre of Kuusamo?" “Here”, she said and made a wide curve with her hand. I looked at the woman in amazement.“If you see someone to ask about the location of the centre, you are in the centre”, she said, and winked.

Why don’t people take over all this space and build themselves a palace? A castle for each Kuusamo native! I hear it isn’t possible. The houses that are exposed to the arctic winter must have special windows, special insulation, a special heating system – special everything.That is expensive. I imagined the natives of Kuusamo in their small, warm winter dens, surrounded by the snowy forest and the arctic darkness. Except that the polar night is not pitch-black as the moonlight and the stars create a cosmic twilight. There are plenty of fascinating things to discover here. Having returned to the cottage, I hurried to examine the windows: there were three windowpanes.

• 25 •


WHAT IS HIDDEN IN

KUUSAMO ­~

BEAR – THE FINNS’ GRANDFATHER Ursus arctos, the largest carnivore in Europe. Length 130–250 cm, weight 60–300 kg. Top speed 60 km/h. Omnivorous, principal nutrition: plants, particularly berries, as well as insects. The ancient Finns respected and feared the bear, which was sacred to them. They used hundreds of names for the bear, of which “kouvo”, for example, means a grandfather or an ancestor.

• 26 •


˜˜GRANDFATHER? The ancient Finns regarded the bear as man’s relative. Why? The bear and man have a lot in common. The bear often gets up on its hind legs and takes a few steps. It has soulful eyes and can even whistle. In addition, it eats the same bounty of nature as the Finns’ ancestors did. When a killed bear is skinned, the carcass under the skin looks confusingly much like a human body.

˜˜A KILLED BEAR? Yes, bears have always been hunted. A common way of bear hunting was to track a bear to its winter den - i.e. "circle" the bear, from which the Karhunkierros (“karhu”: “bear”, “kierros”: “circle”) hiking trail has got its name. Sometimes the hunters followed the bear for days before it settled down in its den. In order to advance the bear’s settling in the den, the hunters performed rituals, such as nailing bear tracks to the ground with wooden pegs. The hunters chased the bear out of its den and speared it to death. Today, bear den hunting is prohibited. In former days, people showed respect to the bear, as it was a deity whose spirit lived for ever. Consequently, a killed bear was carried – and is still carried - from the forest respectfully, head first. Only the body of the deceased is carried feet first.

˜˜DEITY? The bear was a gift from the constellation of the Plough (i.e., the Big Bear). Hibernation strengthened the belief in the bear’s divine origin: it seemed like it died in the autumn and was restored to life in the spring. According to one belief, the bear turned over on the 24th of February and went into a lighter sleep. After that date, nobody dared to utter the word “karhu” (“bear”), so they used euphemisms; if the bear had heard its name, it would have come to scare people and kill domestic animals.

RITES WITH WHICH THE BEAR’S SPIRIT WAS ESCORTED BACK TO LIFE ˜˜FEAST GIVEN IN HONOUR OF THE DEAD BEAR ("peijaiset") The killed bear was given a feast, where the bear was propitiated and asked to return to the forest so that people would have food in the future. The peijaiset feast was both the bear’s funeral and wedding, where, metaphorically speaking, it got married to a young girl. There was an erotic charge connected to the bear, and because the bear was man's relative, the woman and the bear had a special relationship. It was believed that a male bear did not hurt women and that women were able to give birth to the bear's offspring. At the peijaiset feast, people danced, drank beer and ate bear meat. A special part of the shared meal was eating the bear’s head. The leader of the hunting party removed the ears, eyes and nose. In that way, people took the bear's senses - its might and power. The bear’s head went from man to man on a plate. When the men had eaten the skull bare,

• 27 •


they drank beer from it, thus strengthening their sense of community. At the end of the feast, the bear’s teeth were removed and divided among the hunters. Even today, a killed bear is given the peijaiset feast. Over the course of time, the mythology and rituals have moved into the background. On the other hand, some people have started to arrange the kind of peijaiset feasts where they intentionally follow the old traditions.

˜˜BEAR SKULL PINE The bare skull and the bones had to be collected carefully as the hunters needed them in order to return the bear's spirit to the Plough, the bear’s celestial home. After the feast, the skull was taken to a large pine - the sacred bear skull pine - in a formation that looked like a wedding or funeral procession. The skull was hung on a pine branch so that the eye sockets were directed towards the sunrise. In this way, the bear’s spirit could go in the right direction. The bones were buried at the foot of the pine. The participants sang a return song to the bear, in which it was told how good a place it had been brought to. The skull was left on the branch of the bear skull pine, where there may have been several skulls.

˜˜WHERE CAN I SEE A BEAR? They say that about ten bears actively move in the area close to the Karhunkierros hiking trail. Legend? You never know. You are not likely to see a bear in the wilderness – but the bear may see you. That is because the bear moves soundlessly and disappears into the wilds right after scenting people. If you wish to improve your chances of seeing a wild bear, go on a bear watching excursion in Kuusamo, where, from the safety of a hut, you can observe bears that come to feed on carrion.

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• 29 •


REINDEER

– NORTHERN PEOPLE’S SUPER HERO Rangifer tarandus tarandus, semi-domesticated herd animal. Height at the withers 90–120 cm, weight 60–180 kg, life expectancy up to 20 years. Freely grazing, the reindeer eats green plants, dwarf shrubs, grass, mushrooms and lichen. All reindeer are owned by someone, and the owner is indicated by the earmark. Each year the reindeer gets new antlers, which grow at a speed of 2 cm per day at best.

• 30 •


˜˜WHY DOES THE REINDEER NOT FREEZE IN THE INTENSE COLD? The undercoat is very thick, and the overcoat contains heat-insulating air pockets. There is oleic acid in the reindeer’s bone marrow. The effective blood circulation keeps the reindeer’s legs warm.

˜˜HOW DOES THE REINDEER COPE IN SNOW? The reindeer has extra toes that it can spread in soft snow and on mires. It has a good sense of smell, so it can scent nutrition covered with deep snow.

˜˜IT IS DARK IN WINTER. DOESN’T A REINDEER LOSE TRACK OF ITS FRIENDS? The reindeer’s ankles click. The sound tells the reindeer where the herd is and what speed they are moving at. The lead reindeer has a bell on its neck, which helps the reindeer to stay together.

˜˜WHY ARE SOME REINDEER IN PENS? Some reindeer serve tourists, being there to be stroked. In the spring, there may be calving females in the pen. In the autumn, all reindeer are collected into pens for the round up, where the reindeer herders list the new calves, choose the animals to be slaughtered and castrate some of the males.

˜˜WHY DO REINDEER COME ONTO ROADS? The roads go through their pastures. In the summer, the reindeer find plants to be eaten and some shelter from insects by the roadsides. In the winter, the reindeer prefer ploughed roads to unbroken snow.

˜˜WHY ARE THERE REINDEER? According to the Sámi stories, the reindeer is the sun god’s gift to man for coping in the severe conditions of the north. Reindeer are used for nutrition and also as material for warm clothes and diverse handicrafts. At first, reindeer were used as decoys in wild deer hunting, and later as draught and pack animals. The modern times have brought the reindeer a new task: producing experiences for tourists.

˜˜WHERE CAN I SEE A REINDEER? There are about 10,000 reindeer in Kuusamo, so you will quite certainly see some freely roaming reindeer. Drive carefully! Some reindeer herders put a reflective collar on their reindeer so that drivers can see them better in the dark. There are always traces of reindeer on the terrain: droppings and holes created in winter when they dig for lichen under the snow.

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INSECTS

– IRRITATING NUISANCES In the Kuusamo airspace there are whining insects that desire the blood of endothermic beings, including people. It is the female that attacks you as, for many species, blood is a precondition for reproduction. Not all species are on the move at the same time, but each has its own high season. Please find my observations in the table below.

MOSQUITO

BLACKFLY

SEASON

June-July. Calm, shadowy places. In the evenings.

June-August. Gardens, forests. During the daytime in warm weather.

AugustSeptember. Forests.

July. Hot days.

SOUND DURING FLIGHT

High-frequency whining.

Faint buzz, can only be heard at a short distance.

Cannot be heard by man.

Buzz.

BITING AND SUCKING EQUIPMENT

Sucker.

Cutting jaws.

Cutting jaws.

Cutting jaws.

PAIN RATE OF A BITE (1–5)

1–2

3

5

5

BITE MARK

Red spot, in centre of which is a lighter lump.

A large red lump, the hole bleeds for a long time.

Hardly visible. Sometimes a row of red spots.

A small wound.

RATE OF ITCHING/RATE OF PAIN (1-5)

5 (itchy)

4 (itchy/ painful)

5 (painful)

3 (painful)

REPELLING MEASURES

Repellent, clothes. Stubborn.

Light-coloured clothes, strong repellents. Outrageous.

Nothing really. Unnoticeable.

Mosquito-net hats, clothing covering the whole body. Fast as lightning.

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BITING MIDGE

HORSEFLY


KUUSAMO FINDINGS ˜˜SILVER TREASURE FROM LÄMSÄNKYLÄ In ancient times, Kuusamo was along busy trade routes, of which there may still be some relics in the terrain. In the autumn of 1953, the brothers Arvo and Tauno Määttä were constructing a road. What did Arvo’s spade clang against? He bent down to have a look: there were fine pendants, bracelets and silver brooches under the moss. The axe-shaped pendant that had been part of a necklace was particularly gorgeous. Arvo took the jewellery home in his rucksack and the villagers flocked to see it. The officials also became interested in it. Studies showed that the silver jewellery originated from the Iron Age - i.e., from 1050–1150 - and was made by a blacksmith from Karelia, Novgorod, Estonia or Ingria. Perhaps some salesman had hidden the jewellery in the Kuusamo forest. You can carry “the Axe of Kuusamo" on your neck even today. Jewellery makers specialising in ancient jewellery produce the axe pendant as a smaller version suitable for modern women.

˜˜THE BONES OF A WITCH There are traces of the Sámi settlement in Kuusamo still today. The grave of a shaman witch was found in Virrankylä in 1970. In the grave there were things like a tin ornament representing a flying bird, which indicated that this man, who had lived in the 16th century, had been a mighty witch who had been able to take the shape of an animal and move like animals: he had been able to fly, for example. The witches acted as the leaders of the Lappish villages, and their task was to act as a link between the spiritual world and people. According to legend, the researcher who transported the bird witch’s bones from Virrankylä to be studied more closely elsewhere experienced a number of mystical things: the car engine died for no apparent reason but then restarted – only to die again by the church, where the car was not going to budge, no way. Was it the mighty witch’s last feat, a protest against the foreign religion and the modern era?

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5. WHAT TO SEE AND DO – AND WHERE? MARCO GUILD GUIDE

DID I VISIT KUUSAMO OR DID

KUUSAMO VISIT ME? ­~

The midnight sun was like a talkative friend who kept babbling when I was trying to sleep. I kicked off the duvet and went for a walk in the national park. That was the most bizarre night of my life. SUDDENLY THERE WAS a grassy spot in middle of a spruce forest.

What was that, a parking area for UFOs? Impulsively, I threw myself flat on the grass. The air was filled with the scent of the forest, the rapids sang. Suddenly I heard a rubbing sound. I lifted my head.There was an old man sitting on a stump and sharpening a scythe! I got embarrassed and stood up. A scythe handle clicked on my palm. The old man mowed with brisk, skilled movements.The grass flattened in front of me – swish, swish, the scythe blade sang. The rhythm expressed the stress of the Finnish language. Hey, that was the alliteration of the Kalevala poem Alice was so enthusiastic about! I fell into some kind of trance, like a shaman of the north. I woke up. Some grass was glued to my cheek, and the other parts of my body had apparently served as a buffet for the entire mosquito population of Kuusamo. I crawled along, every muscle hurting, and inched towards the cottage in the morning filled with birdsong. I pondered on my dream, where the open spot in the forest had found an explanation. Tough lot, the Kuusamo natives of bygone days. They managed to live deep in the wilderness as they were familiar with nature and knew how to utilise the possibilities it offered. I grabbed the door knob made from a twisted branch. Ouch! I looked at my palm: there was a handsome blister.

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HERE YOU CAN SEE AND EXPERIENCE

THE LIFE IN THE WILDERNESS WHAT GETS THE KUUSAMO NATIVE into high spirits? Experienc-

es in the Kuusamo wilderness.What does the Kuusamo native provide to others? Experiences in the Kuusamo wilderness. THE WILDERNESS IS THE SAMPO OF THE KUUSAMO NATIVES.

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OULANKA-PAANAJÄRVI NATIONAL PARK – ROAM THE ANCIENT PATHS When many other peoples look for their identity in legends and heroic tales, what do the Finns do? They grab a picture of the Oulanka-Paanajärvi wilderness – we are that. All Finns come from Kuusamo to some extent. The Finns’ soul sceneries can be best seen on the Karhunkierros hiking trail, which runs via the most magnificent sights in the national park. If you have permission to cross the State border, there is an equally gorgeous sister park on the Russian side - the Paanajärvi National Park. ˜˜SOMEBODY WORKED HARD IN THE STONE AGE There is something glittering on the ground at the rest spot by the handsome Kiutaköngäs Rapids: chips from the working of white quartz. Somebody made arrowheads and other sharp tools there 8,000 years ago. Now you are enjoying your snack in the same place.

˜˜PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS HUNTED AND FISHED HERE Hunters and fishermen have roamed the Oulanka-Paanajärvi area since olden times, so an observant hiker may still notice some remains of ancient pit traps in the terrain. Wild deer were driven into pit traps. Among the other quarry were various species of duck and fowl, beavers, stoats and bears. Fishermen caught trout, whitefish, pike and burbot. In addition to the traces in the terrain, hunting and fishing are also strongly visible in the Oulanka National Park’s place names, such as Kärppäniemi (“stoat headland"), Majavasaari ("beaver island"), Haukijärvi ("pike lake") and Ahvenlampi ("perch pond”). Hunting and fishing are still an integral part of the Kuusamo natives’ way of life. In Finland, hunting does not have a luxurious label. It is just a reason to roam the wilderness and feel the ancient connection that is a big part of the Finnish identity. The locals do not actually hike, but they do go into the wilderness to hunt, fish, or pick mushrooms or berries - i.e., to utilise the bounty of nature. Nature is always within reach – for you as well!

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˜˜THE SÁMI KEPT REINDEER Game and fish finally inspired the Stone Age people to establish a permanent home in the wilderness. Among the first inhabitants were the Sámi, for whom reindeer husbandry was an important livelihood. Reindeer roamed freely but they were herded to safety, out of reach of predators, and to better feeding places. There are old reindeer round-up pens in the national park to which reindeer were guided for inventory in the autumn. Reindeer husbandry still has an important role in Kuusamo, and it is based on the ancient knowledge and skills. At the end of the 17th century, the Sámi started to withdraw from Kuusamo towards the north as they were edged out by the Finnish settlers.

˜˜FARMING IN THE WILDERNESS At the end of the 17th century, Finnish and Karelian settlers arrived and brought farming to the wilderness. In the national park you can see old flood meadows, from which peasants and reindeer herders cut feed. The floods brought nutrients to the riverbanks and made the grass thrive. The trees were cleared from the riverbanks, thus creating a productive meadow. There may have been dozens of kilometres of a roadless stretch to one's own meadow, which was travelled on foot or by boat. The whole family went to the meadow and stayed there for a week at least. The fam-

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ily sweated their guts out, working 17 hours a day, and spent the nights in a barn or a lean-to shelter. At meal times they often ate dried reindeer meat, salted fish, sour milk and bread. The dried hay was carried into a barn, where it was the children’s task to tread it into a dense mattress. The hay was transported home by manpower or horse, or by reindeer in the winter when a sleigh could be used in the snow. The meadows were still being used in the 1950s. Today, the meadows are managed in order to retain the landscape and the plant and animal species.

˜˜NÄRÄNKÄ WILDERNESS FARM At this farm, located in southern Kuusamo, you can imagine what the peasants’ life was like in former times far away from everything. The Näränkä wilderness farm, established in 1841, saw many kinds of human fates as it was transferred from father to son. Eljas Kyllinen, who became master of the farm in the 1880s, had the most colourful life of all the farm inhabitants. Eljas was known for his healing skills and almost mystical ability to handle forest animals, such as the bear. Perhaps he had inherited the skill? The year 1876 has been carved onto an ancient pine in order to seal an agreement with a bear: the farm people would not disturb the bear and the bear would not eat the farm's cows. And I hear it didn’t. In 1903, Eljas borrowed money to buy a horse, but could not pay part of the debt. The Näränkä farm was put up for foreclosure, and Eljas lived at the farm as a tenant of the new owner. In 1916, destiny struck Eljas again: he and his family were evicted from Näränkä because of neglected rent payments. Eljas built a ‘kota’ hut a few kilometres away, where the family lived for the whole winter. In order to obtain his livelihood, Eljas set off for Murmansk and worked at railway track construction sites and on a fishing boat. On the boat, Eljas’ watch disappeared and he believed the boat’s Chinese cook had stolen it. In the subsequent fight, Eljas killed the cook and was sentenced to prison for a few months. Having been released from prison, Eljas built a cottage on State land close to Näränkä and refused to leave it. Finally, the officials had to give up and partition the farm to Eljas. In the Winter

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War between Finland and the Soviet Union, the Finns used a scorched earth policy and burned Näränkä in December 1939. After the war, Iivari Määttä, husband of Eljas’ niece, rebuilt Näränkä on the original site in the reconstruction style of the 1940s and the 1950s. Thus Näränkä was returned to the family’s ownership.

˜˜VUOTUNKI VILLAGE One of the oldest dwelling sites in Kuusamo, with a most traditional peasant setting. Breathtakingly handsome views.

˜˜PYRAMID-ROOFED SUMMER BARNS A brilliant solution for getting rid of insects. A square or round framework, a four-sided sloping roof and an air shaft on top of the roof. The heat rising from the cows creates a strong draught – and fup!, the bugs find themselves outside. You can see these barns in the Maaselkä and Jokilammi villages. They are still being built.

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ON THE RUSSIAN BORDER AND

BEHIND IT ˜˜SALPA LINE In the 1940s, a 1,200 kilometre-long bunker line was built close to the border with the Soviet Union. The Salpa Line was never used for real as the Finns managed to stop the Red Army before they got there. It functioned as a mental backbone. You can see these constructions along the Lämsänkyläntie Road.

˜˜RUSSIAN BORDER A zone that is a few kilometres wide and has many different steps. Permission is required for moving in the zone. On the Russian side there is the Paanajärvi National Park, consisting of wilderness, handsome lakes and small villages. For crossing the border you will need a passport and a visa, which is best obtained from a travel agency. If you drive your own car to the Russian side, get a green card from your insurance company. On the border you must fill out the Englishlanguage migration card. Make sure you tick the same visa type on the migration card as in your passport! You must also fill out a customs form. Always check the visa and customs rules in advance as they change frequently.

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THE MIGHT OF POEM IN PAANAJÄRVI The poems of the Finnish national epic Kalevala date from different eras, the oldest from the Stone Age. The poems were collected in the first part of the 19th century, chiefly from Viena Karelia, which borders Kuusamo on the Russian side. The Paanajärvi village is among the most valuable poem villages in Viena and, despite its name, is not connected to the Oulanka-Paanajärvi National Park. Finns believed in the power of the word, which they maximised with the Kalevala metre. What comes to your mind when thinking about poems? The end rhyme, I guess. However, the Kalevala metre is characterised by alliteration, which makes it sound special.

The Kalevala metre is a unique metre of the Baltic-Finnic peoples and was probably created before the common era. The metre was used for spells, proverbs and heroic tales, which were usually performed by singing. The poems were transferred from one generation to the next, stored in the poem singers' memories. The Kalevala metre is still used in poetry. For example, some people have made up exorcisms about fat burning and PCs for fun.

RUBBING MY HANDS , I set off for Paanajärvi in Viena. I would now have a chance to ask the bearded poem singers about the Sampo, and they would take a kantele, the folk zither, onto their laps and make the rafters tremble with alliteration! But although the village has remained unchanged for ages, the time of the poem singers is over. Literacy has replaced the transfer of traditions stored in the poem singers’ memories.

On the return trip through the untouched wilderness, I realised that I did not need the help of the bearded poem singers in order to find the Sampo. I discovered it myself. I only needed to calm down by the Paanajärvi idyll and the beautiful wilds surrounding the village. THERE WAS THE SAMPO.

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EVERY NOW AND THEN , mankind receives a thrilling puzzle to solve, such as the Atlantis. An equally juicy nut to crack is the Sampo, the magical mill that grinds out riches in the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic.

WHAT WAS THE SAMPO IN REALITY?

THIS IS WHAT WE WANT TO FIND OUT. For the purpose, the Pohjola Guild will set out on an expedition to Pohjola. We will familiarise ourselves with foreign habits. We will face phenomena unknown to all other people. We will eat foods that others have not tasted. Perhaps we will even discover the Sampo, the treasure of Pohjola.

COME JOIN OUR JOURNEY AND GUILD!

www.pohjolaguild.fi

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Pohjola Guild - Cultural Adventures in Kuusamo