Finland from the air
March 30th, 2011
Pleated, becheckered and monochrome, it’s possible to see the managed pine and the white ground between trees, galvanised in the light. Palette lakes: smooth pulped and pressed flat. You can see the ripped, trimmed and scored woods, the growths left to bloom in rings like boreal fairy glens. Summer house are still submerged. From here it’s a stickle-backed land, seeming far more cottaged and tended than from the ground. You see the farm ponds and where black heated tarmac crosses the crispy white ski tracks.
The vanguard of sea ice hugs the far coast: a barrage against liquid. The edges of the Baltic are still frozen – they hold a viscous edge that peels and retreats on warm days, crusts and extends on cold. In the shallow seas around the coast snow furs over the islets that are hugged close and made part of the land only to be released into the sea again come spring. Some of the archipelagos are linked together by stringy bridges.
Over Turku the ice loosens. There are beaches of snow in the bays, ringed islands that could almost be Greek with their white sands in bright blue. Over Sweden I watch the land start to brown, the lakes crack. There are long white scores cut out of the trees that stretch in very straight lines across miles of field, wood, frozen sea and island – presumably they are old imperial sledgeways?
Over Denmark the clouds come and I try to make out parts of the royal wedding magazine the Finnish woman next to me is reading: ‘Diana vs Kate’ – why are they so interested?
From the land of Finns to the land of Angles – we are both fished fine angles and filled lands, finished on an ask, an Ang, a Fin. The plane has taken me from winter back to spring. On the ground the foggy air smells warmly wet – long released from ice. The willows and thorns are leafing. I have gone from zero ice to liquid pools, the muds of the new year. We are quick to forget an English winter. But the Finnish winter I am fresh from will be harder to let go of. In the leech-grey wood one tree has come into green. As the train creeps into London the land warms another degree, and the sparse trees and track-side buddleia start to show it, begrudgingly.