Quiet life of winter in Geopark – On skis to the mire

The mystical mires are easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. The skis provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground.

On skis to Huidankeidas

The mystical nature of mire is easy to explore in winter, for example on skis. They provide access to places that are inaccessible during melted ground – partly because they cannot be reached and because many wetlands are nesting areas for birds where you are not allowed to go. So is Huidankeidas.

Huidankeidas is located in Honkajoki, and there is a guided route from Siikaistentie via Haukantie. The road leading to the parking area of Huidankeidas is kept open in winter. I drove there and skied first along the path to the observation tower.

Cross-country skiing

The trail had not been walked since the previous snowfall, so I got to ski in thick unbroken snow. The landscape was really beautiful, the sun was shining low, how it can shine in January, and painted warm shades on top of the trees.

Birch grove

On the edge of Huidankeidas, there is a magnificent birch grove where the trees curved from the weight of the snow. In 1959, there was a conflagration in the area of the municipalities of Honkajoki and Isojoki, and the birch grove was born after that. In summer, it is a paradise for small birds.

Peaceful mire

The mire opened bold and calm, clean crust shining in the sun. There was no sound. I continued southeast of the tower near the edge of the mire, sometimes over the pools on solid ice and over the hummocks, sometimes diving between stunted pines. Gradually, traces of life began to appear.

Traces on the snow

An ermine had wandered on the surface of the snow purposefully. Small pairs of traces ran across the hummocks as a regular ribbon. The ermine keeps the little rodents in check, but it can also catch rabbits by biting its prey into its neck. The ermine has also been seen caught in the throat of a capercaillie.

Soon I found myself in the middle of a suburb of the black grouse. There were numerous hollows and corridors here and there, and there were also droppings in the pits, revealing to whom the beds belonged. Sufficient amount of soft snow means a favorable winter for the black grouse. It gets to rest out of reach of birds of prey and the cold.

To Huidansalo

At the edge of the mire, traces of a hare crisscrossed. They didn’t seem to lead anywhere, they just ended. The hare is a cunning guy, as it makes a comeback by walking its own footprints a little further back and then jumping to the side. Thus, it misleads potential predators.

The rabbit had dug up the snow to the ground to find something to eat. Fortunately, the snow was soft, so it had gotten in easily.

I skied to Huidansalo, which seemed interesting on the map. It is a “foreland” at the edge of a mire, gentle undulating terrain with ridges of dunes and ancient embankments. There were several elegant deadwoods on the edge of the mire, and on the dry land side began a magnificent, spacious pine forest. Immediately at the edge of the pine forest, the capercaillie had scampered back and forth. I followed its traces a little way if I had seen it, but I soon gave up the chase.

Quiet pine forest

In the pine forest I heard only a woodpecker tapping, all the little birds were conspicuously absent. The weather was quite cold, it was over ten degrees below zero and it started to get a little windy, so the smaller birds were definitely in more sheltered woods.

Surprise on top of a tree

After enjoying a packed lunch I returned and still admired the peace of the mire and the fine colors of the sky. On the way back between Honkajoki and Siikainen, I noticed a capercaillie eating at the top of a pine tree. It uses the needles of weak and old pines for food, as they contain less resin substances that impair digestion. The capercaillie cock  on top of a frosty tree is called “frost capercaillie”. It is a term especially familiar to hunters.

Although the mire looks quiet in winter, there are plenty of traces and signs of biodiversity in the harsh conditions. The stories are written on the surface of the snow, and passing slowly you may see the ones who have made the traces. The sparse soundscape also speaks its own language. Welcome to the mystical mires of the Geopark on bright winter days – and moonlit nights!

Text and photos: Terttu Hermansson

LOCAL NATURE AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPE MADE INTO A MOVIE

The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” ("these lands, these places - our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature.

These lands, these places

The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” (“these lands, these places – our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura premiered in Bio Marlon in autumn 2021. The movie is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature. The filmmakers were happy when the audience found the film and new showings needed to be added, one after another. The popularity of the film also contributed to their biggest wish: that the experiences shown in the film would inspire to cherish our ancient heritage and go explore the diverse environment of our home region.

The film is based on Kauhajoki’s exceptionally extensive local heritage literature that covers over 100 titles. In particular, its nature and the cultural landscape are described thoroughly in a series of five books: Kauhajoen luonnonkirja (“The book of Kauhajoki nature”, 1983); Kauhajoen vesien kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki waters”, 1991); Kauhajoen metsien ja soiden kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki forests and mires”, 1999); Hämes-Havunen (2006); and Kauhajoen kulttuurimaisemien kirja (“The book of the cultural landscapes of Kauhajoki”, 2012). The books were also a marvel of volunteer efforts: every one of the approximately 100 authors wrote articles about their area of expertise without compensation. The same applied to the dozens of photographers. The books were also published and the editions of 2,000-3,000 books were sold as volunteer work by the Lions clubs.

The books are a source of many wonderful discoveries. What the bedrock tells about the history of our entire planet and the soil about the many glacial periods; What the brown trout in headwaters and the herb-rich forests by the brooks reveal about the groundwaters. The list could go on and on: the power of erosion, the breathtaking grand mires, the cultural landscapes of the Hyypänlaakso valley and the open terrain…

Over the decades, the books have provided a lot of information. Some of them only exist as archive copies now. Suddenly, there was a need to preserve them for younger generations and open the treasure trove of knowledge to the communal use of all interested parties using digital methods, both as a traditional reading experience and through editing from substantial data material. This work received Leader support from the Suupohja Development Association. The work was also motivated by the Geopark project, which is a joint project between local authorities and Metsähallitus, which presents the unique characteristics of our nature to an international audience. Maybe we could support that too.

In spring 2019, the Kauhajoki tutuksi (“Get to know Kauhajoki”) website was completed at www.kauhajoki.net. At the heart of the website are the digitized local heritage books with featured photos and videos. The videos were considered important from the start of the digital project. The goal of creating about ten videos seemed to be very ambitious at first but as the enthusiasm of the participants grew, the efforts resulted in 11 videos. The videos were created by 20 active filmmakers, screenwriters, cinematographers, editors, narrators and recorders. Some of the music was written specifically for them. As the videos were starting to take shape, the filmmaking team got the idea to also create a movie that audiences could see on the large cinema screen.

It was time to return to the roots of local heritage work – volunteering. Compiling the videos into a film required an interesting beginning, narration leading from one subject to another, new video material, more music and an emotional ending. At the same time, it had to be accepted that there would be some repetition, as it was not in the plans to re-edit the independent videos. Pentti Kakkori, an expert in photography and film, took the responsibility for this work. The many creations of the previous cinematographers also helped add to the new imagery.  Pentti also received the support he needed for narrations and music from other friends of the region. All names appear in the end credits. Pentti says he’s very grateful to all of them.

So, what do movie audiences think after 70 minutes? It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences, and they were focused and interested when watching the movie based on the familiar landscapes. Even the repetitions were welcomed. Practice makes perfect, and so does repetition!

 

The article is written by Liisa Ruismäki, Chairperson of Kauhajoki-Seura (Kauhajoki Association) and Jussi Kleemola (in the photo), Chair of the admin group of the “Kauhajoki tutuksi” website (“Get to know Kauhajoki”)

Photos: Pentti Kakkori

Photo at the top: Mirja Koivisto

Photo beneath: Terttu Hermansson

"It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences."