Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow falling on cedars

...and everything else. That's to say we've been snowed in for the better part of last week. No driving, no internet, just the quiet woods and us sitting by the fire.
Snowed out

I don't know whether ya'll have missed me, but I sure as heck have missed you guys. It's fun to come back to slew of beauteous postings and fun surprises, but a little intimidating too. I got to get on this getting my computer fixed thing.

The snow days just kind of illustrated this perfectly. I felt a little cut off from the world. Not just my friends and neighbors, all hunkered up in their homes, but also the wider world of news and weather, of faraway friends and online pen pals.

As much as I love reading and scribbling notes and writing my journal, this blog has become an important outlet for my ideas, my obsessions and my connections to some of the most wonderful womyn I know.
As I go about my daily routine about a million ideas for posts wander in and out of my mind, serious and frivolous, but without an outlet to type them up, they wither and vanish into wherever it is that ideas go when you don't use them. The same goes for my endless notebooks for story ideas, that simply don't translate in my awkward long-hand. And while other endeavors have flourished in this time, kitted hats and mufflers, exciting collaborations, I honestly feel off balance without writing and publishing things every few days.
I used to think that I kept this log just for my own little self, but now I find that I miss the written exchange of thoughts it provides.

And where at first I was curious to see what a little brake from computers might do, especially the positive changes it might offer, I'm now purely frustrated by how its hampering my creativity. Living and learning, I guess.
In the absence of such Universal Touring Machines, we have however whiled away the idle hours with keeping the homefires burning, making infusions, doing crafts, sledding and marveling at how different our little world looks under a light dusting of snow. Oh magical, glorious snow.


As a matter of fact, C. and I used some of our idle time in calculating how many snowdays a kid from this area might have in his or her whole childhood on average and came up with less than twenty.
Now where I'm from you have an average of at least three full months of snow, so about a 100 days a year when there's snow on the ground. So between the ages of two and twelve (which we approximated to be the ages when you can really enjoy all goodness of snow, from being only semi in charge of your limbs to when you become an uppity teenager.) an average Finnish kid gets about a thousand snow days!


For all the frosty forests and endless snowdrifts I've experienced in my North Country life, I've hardly known how joyous a little snow can be when you live without it most of the year.

And I don't ever remember school being canceled because there was snow. Even when I had to dig my way through drifts higher than my knees to get there. If it snowed a lot over night, the city would only get to plowing the streets by the time I had to get to school, in effect piling snow onto the sidewalk, making kids crawl over high piles of it to cross the streets, all the while lugging skies and poles, with skates hanging from their shoulders to balance their school bags.

That's right, folks, in Finland in the winter ice skating and skiing are pretty much the only options for gym class. No cozy indoor sports like basketball and balancing on a beam. Instead, we got to ski over the frozen lake on a Friday afternoon class and if you didn't make it back by the time school was over, well, that was your own damn fault.

Now, never having been an athletic child, I already hated everything about school sports, but the winter just about killed me. For years I remember just drudging along on my skis, my fingers numb with cold and my nose constantly running. Ice skating was another nightmare, imagine a sport where your lack of grace instantly gets you a broken tailbone, or in the very least frost bite on your toes.

Even if the rumor did have it that if it got colder than -22 degrees Fahrenheit, you didn't have to go skating during phys.ed. none of my sadist gym teachers ever acknowledged such limitations to the human endurance.

Now I keep praying the Weather Gods for a long enough cold snap to form thick enough ice to test out our "new" Goodwill skates. Out here in the land of near perpetual precipitation my few pitiful skating moves make a winter athlete well above the curve. Time's they are a changin'...

I'm not alone in my snow bliss, not by a long shot. Everyone loves it: the kids who get to miss school, the parents who get to miss work, the animals that get to frolic in it and sample it, stare at the altered landscape in wonder.
It is the rare opportunity to bust out your sleds and skis and...boats and hurtle down abandoned hillsides, or even roads now devoid of the offending automobiles.


Snow gives our surroundings a strange, otherworldly sheen, accentuating some features, while erasing others. There's a sense of newness and cleanness about it.

The most fun though, we figured, is following animal tracks, finding where the otters come out of the water, or where the raccoons wander at night, or what patterns we ourselves leave in our wake.

Sometimes you can track a big lumbering animal for a while.
And if you thought snow just a nuisance to practicality, think again.
As generations of Scandahuvian womyn well know, it makes for the most excellent alternative to washing your rugs.
And without a computer, what better things I have to do, eh?


  1. Whaaat? YOu're going to have to give us a tutorial on this rug thing!

  2. hahaha! that is awesome. really gorgeous photographs, and i am a big fan of red winter coats. big, big fan. i have barely ever seen snow. less than 6 times in my whole entire life. and 4 of those times it was just the freak california snow that melts within 10 minutes of hitting the ground. oh and those boots! are! amazing!!

  3. I love snow! Snow days are a rarity in New Zealand - though we did have a couple of snow periods last year, so with global warming the weather seems to be doing strange things. I'm always so happy to see posts from you as well!

  4. oh man, your snowy dreamworld looks so enchanted! i want to romp around and ride down those frozen hillsides, get the flushed rosy cheek look...not to mention, bundle up in the cutest snowsuit ever (! HELLO!!!) we haven't had a blessed flake this year...though we are finally got our sprinkling of rain, a twinkle of an eye, and now it's gone and the sun is back. thank you for bringing in a bit of true winter to my heart. and yes, hear hear! i want a tutorial on the rug thing...just in CASE it finally snows here. i will take any old-fashioned shortcut to rug cleaning, anyday.

    love to see you around these parts. i get such delight from everything about your posts...your train of thought, the strings of words, the interspersed photos of glee and magic. oh milla how i adore you!

  5. Hellooooooo, we've missed our Milla posts for sure! It snowed here over winter, for three days. I was at first joyous, and then by the third day I was mortified! I had to drive to the Doctor in the snow and I couldn't see whee the roads and footpaths began. (This is coming from a girl who doesn't even like driving at dusk or in the rain). You look extremely adorable in your winter coat; I was just thinking today about the ladies around here (my town) how they gravitate towards black and grey wearables in Winter, all from the same shop, and how much it tires my eyes to look at the sameness. So YOU my dear in your red coat, lovely scarf and brown boots and red mittens are inspiring to say the least. Rug cleaning in the snow, do tell! And my new summer wardrobe from you is suiting me well, perfectly well!

  6. I was curious about the rug cleaning in the snow as well! Great pictures! I love the snow- how it happens in Seattle so infrequently that it actually gives pause to a true slowing down. We spent our days napping, sledding, playing games with our 4 year old, cooking, and being present. It was pretty great!
    Love the chicken foot prints =)

  7. Ahhh, lovely snow. I think we've had a total of 6 inches this winter. We are missing our snow fun. Love the red coat. And your chickens! The one you're holding looks like a Speckled Sussex. We have 30 chickens: Speckled Sussex, Welsummer, Ameraucana and a few bantams. They are enjoying the mild winter! Warm wishes and bright blessings.

  8. Lovely snow pictures. I find I'm also changing in terms of (minimal) athleticism and not minding the colder weather as much. I think it's partly due to learning how to layer and also the autonomy of deciding for myself how I move around and how long/often I'm exposed to the cold. (I do still struggle with feeling guilty about the hardships homeless animals and people face in the cold weather, enough to likely never enough it surivor-guilt-free!)

    I am so happy that wasn't my phys ed class. I could barely handle what I did have and that was indoors!

  9. such wonderful pictures! I just did that with all our rugs. happy winter! xo m

  10. Ah,you make me WANT to be in the snow - at least in that sort of environment + home. Snow is depressing in the city. I think you are the catalyst for me leaving next year. :)

  11. This is post is so beautiful! Snow always makes me happy!
    I hope to visit Finland someday...

  12. lovely post...I too am curious about the rugs :)

  13. we have indeed missed you!

    i want to come and sip some coffee next to your oh so cozy fire. then go outside and play in the snow with you. i know, i'm dreaming. but it's suppose to be 80 degrees here today :( i'm gearing up to be hot and sweaty. yuck.

    these pictures are gorgeous. i love the animal tracks in the snow and the sledder getting air.

  14. I always feel a twinge of jealously seeing other people's
    "snow days" - I can't bear the cold, but I would love to experience this once & ahwile..

    And happy to hear you missed us. We missed to too. As much as I like the idea of you wandering around snowlands, and investing in all kinds of creative romps on your internet break, I'm always relived to log on and see that you're back in the game, ready to share a little about your life.

    Happy Winter Reconnect,

  15. Oi että! Nuo kissa ja pulkkamäkikuvat saivat minut niin iloiseksi.Ihanaa!
    Minäkään en mitenkään suuresti nauttinut koululiikunnan hiihdosta,mutta nykyään kyllä.
    ja luistelusta luonnon jäällä,voi kunpa tulisi pian mahdollisuus:-)

  16. Ah, Finnish winter phys.ed.! Our outdoor acitivity limit was -15, and the teachers usually stuck to it, too.

    It's funny how different winter is here in upstate NY, too, compared to Finland. It snows a fair bit here (and usually when it snows, we get a lot of it), but people still can't drive in winter conditions, schools close and all that. I don't know why people aren't used to winter because well, it comes every year after all, just like it does in Finland.

    Tuli muuten mieleen noista sun rannalla otetuista kuvista Pikku Kakkosen "varokaa heikkoja jaita"-animaatio. :) Ja Kissalle terveisia, se on ihana.

  17. Ms. Milla you've been sorely missed :( It's always such a treat to read a post and get a snapshot of your cozy little corners. And my oh my, you seem reinvigorated, dare I say "chipper," after this snow (and likely hiatus). I agree, snow has the effect of purifying everything. I did not know about this rug washing business. So... you leave them out and this somehow cleans them?

    Every now and again I miss seeing it and D. and I pretty damn good on our x-country skis. I've become accustomed to the heat & humidity. For us, our monsoon rainy season (June-Sept) has a similar effect on me. I so much look forward to the downpours and lightning storms. They clean and refresh everything, especially after the long, hot, dry, & sunny days of May.

  18. As someone who has never seen real snow in real life, snow still has a magical quality to it, almost mystical. I am hoping to see snow this year though when I venture into your homeland, Finland!

  19. yes! what is the rug trick? i love it!!

  20. You washed your rugs in the snow? how eco-friendly, love it! & don't worry, you can compare your snow days to over here, which are zero haha. Crazy all the PE sports are outdoors in Finland, seems so freezing but I guess exercising always warms you up. I always loved playing sports as a kid & loved it in school but certainly am clueless on the winter ones. Beautiful pictures in the snow, glad you're out of the internet hiatus. And roosters can be in the snow? I thought they'd get too cold. Enjoy the rest of your week : )

  21. I'm happy to hear you're back.

    I'm just a quite observer of your world, which is magical and incredibly inspiring and reassuring. Just a proof that an alternative way of life is possoble, even if it's hard. And you make it look so atractive, as if a mythical world has come alive.

    In this post I love the purple hens and the pistaschio woods the most :)

    All the best from Poland (we get a moderate amount of snow here - anything from a rare 4 months to a few days. Most years it would be two months of pure white).

  22. Also, you and your husband are so sweet...I would love to hear about you two met if you'd be willing to share :)

  23. Thank you for making the snow magical again. I felt incredibly isolated over here in the city, and the snow actually spurred a decision that I'll be announcing soonish. But this post reminded me that snow, rain, natural rhythms of the earth can be beautiful. Thanks again.

  24. Jeez, well, I guess if you're gonna be held up somewhere for a week, you might as well make it a magical winter wonderland! Some serious dreamy snow business happening here!

    So good to see my Millakin again, been missin' her somethin' fierce, as a matter of fact. Love the shot of C. catching air on the blue sled and chickens in the snow. The one you're holding looks just like our lil' sussex.

    It's interesting to hear about the unexpectedness of how being computer-free has affected your creative life too. Well, I'm gonna be sending some serious GET MILLA BACK ONLINE vibes out into the universe 'cause, not to be selfish or anything, but I want you back on a regular basis!!!!

    p.s. I'm with Brigit, those boots totally rock :)

  25. Big lumbering animal.

    Oh my darling Finnish elf from the North Country, I do so love you. I was lucky enough to see Roy Harper perform that song in Big Sur this weekend. It's always been one of my favorites and now it is always going to make me think of you. Which is just fine by me. (Girl From the north Country of course, though now I really want to write Darling Finnish Elf From the North Country).

    What a magical time, and to think of the folks for generations and eons who have had the same experience is snowy landscapes all over the world. The silence, the sparkly white, the newness and cleanness. And of course the animals and their tracks.

    We all sure do miss you when you're away for a while. I'm sure I'm not alone in going to your new posts first when I sit down to catch up on blogs. Do you upolad your photos to the library's computer?


  26. Oh, and that read jacket and those boots are painfully adorable!

  27. Thank you very much for sharing these beautiful moments.
    You will alway be an inspiration for me.

  28. Madeleine longs for snow, and I am not too sure knowing my new old house, is big and fires have to be kept going. I love the work in a fire bit for how long? You make it sound divine me dear and I am now ready for it having read this, if the snow should venture so far. speaking of magical journeys, I still marvel at the stones you sent, shaped on your shores. I wore the medicine pouch all through my moving house, for stength and inspiration.
    Thanks Milla for inspiring me always. And you are always missed. I was without internet for a while, and enjoyed it, even forgot it a little. It felt good, I read and had early nights.
    Here I am back again online in the firelight, just another experience, also good.

    xx E

  29. milla, do you know this song? i know it's a summer song, but i couldn't help but think of it.


    having snow days to be cozy with your man and animals sounds so heavenly! i love the idea of being holed up with no other choice but to be inward. your pics are so amazing -- snow on the beach! the thought somehow never occurred to this california girl!!

  30. oh your making me miss snow! and being curled up by the fire drinking tea and doing projects. I can relate to the long winters ( from being in alaska) its odd to be in the desert in the winter- the dry constant sun winter like but not what I am used to... thanks for posting! I have missed seeing your corner of the world. :)

  31. Oh! Love this post! :-) It makes me realise that being Scandinavian (I'm a Norwegian) makes us kind of special, after all. So used to snow and frost bites. And no winter without a fairly big amount of snow to play in! :-)

    My Grandma used to clean her rugs out in the snow too, but I have forgotten the trick.

    (Been reading your blog for a while now, but haven't commented until now.)

  32. I've never heard of the rug thing!?! I was cracking up reading about your very own "When I was your age... I had to walk a mile through snow to get to school...." hahahaha I've literally never had a "snow day" from school here in Southern California. You might cringe when you read this- but my girls weren't allowed to play on the play ground the other day because it was "too windy." OOOOOHhhhh. I'm fuming! Yeah the wind was blowing but NOT that hard and the weather was seriously perfect! RETArdED! Californians also trip out when it rains. Should have been on our drivers tests somehow... like fake rain so they could see if they really knew how to drive or not. Its so bad that it's almost funny.

    Your little snowy land looks completely magical, the cozy house with a kitty and wooden log table, the fresh quiet look of the snow fall- you in bibs (so cute!) and was that blond hair peeking out from under your hat? :D

    Very cool post- I think I was talking back to you through most of it and some of those ideas have already escaped my mind, so I'll say g'bye for now! Take care in that snow! Make an angel for me :D

  33. As a Canadian, I definitely know snow. I have a distinct memory of opening the front door one morning, and there being a wall of snow up to the doorknob. There was so much snow, it was over the hood of our car. I can't complain too much this year since winter has been pretty mild, not too much snow, but there's too much freezing rain that's for sure! There's a thick layer of ice over everything. I guess if you don't live through a winter like that every year, snow can kind of be pleasant in small amounts heh. I love the photo of your cat playing in the snow, next to the sled. I haven't been sledding in years.

  34. Animal tracks! Fur and feathers in the snow, drives me wild!!! Stay bundly and snuggly!

  35. also, my honey and I were just talking today on how to wash all of our little tiny gross rugs that have been neglected and walked on all winter long. now, if I can only find some snow...hmm..

  36. You are adorable. Adorable! Seriously, I just can't stand it... especially the picture of you and that lovely speckled hen!