Saturday, March 19, 2011
Helsinki part 2.
We're gaining 6 minutes of light each day now. The vernal equinox is upon us and the supermoon or super-full-moon pulls unwanted currents from my emotional stream right now. Ah the balance of imbalance and presence on the earth.
I'm sitting in my bed at Arteles reflecting on the trip to Helsinki. I'm pressed flat by the weight of the heavy comforter that shields me from the silence and the cold which are interrupted only by the hissing of the radiator and now in the morning, the clambering of birds in the nearby forest. I'm looking out on a field covered in snow that I can see roll away from my window. This morning, the field is blurry and the distant clouds mix with the snowy trees and the mist in the valley to make everything shades of formless landscapes. I wonder what is causing this mist. I hope it is the temperature. I hope that the temperature is rising and this is evidence of evaporation. Perhaps the snow is finally letting loose its lock-fisted grasp on the ground and is trying to lift itself to the clouds that are approaching. It's beautiful.
I set out after lunch to find the ferry. I followed the brief instructions I was given by our server at the restaurant. Go around that building then go straight. Got it. I left the restaurant and walked around what I believed to be "that building" and didn't know which way was straight anymore. I saw what was clearly a transportation hub a couple of blocks straight down a road to my left and decided that was straight. I went there. As I approached, I saw that it was a bus terminal and I saw no sign of water or ferries. I asked two women, probably in their 40's or older, if they knew how to get to the ferry. I knew this was a dicey proposition because, though I've been assured that people in Finland speak english - even many older people in the cities - people above a certain age can be shy to speak it and both gave me looks that were a mix of startled recognition and uncertainty about how to proceed. They both told me they don't know where to find the ferry. I didn't believe them. I guessed they weren't keen on speaking english... that's cool. I altered my search parameters and sought people who looked 30 or younger. An extraordinarily tall man told me how to get to the ferry. I stepped quickly along his suggested route as the Japanese / Finnish guide book said I had less than an hour to get to the Zoo and if a boat ride was also in store I was really pushing it.
I only knew it was the harbor because of the boats. Sounds silly reading that statement but it has to do with spending time in the Finnish countryside for these past few weeks. After consulting many maps and travel websites, I see that Finland is in competition with Minnesota for the largest number of lakes. However, the country is also filled with agricultural spaces, fields cleared for grazing and growing. All of these are currently buried under 3 feet of snow. Only recently have I learned to tell the difference in tree lines and that a prolonged flatness in the snow with no trees is likely a lake. Fields gently roll.
So, when I arrived at the harbor and saw many boats seemingly planted in a very flat field of snow, I knew I had found the Baltic Sea. "The ferry doesn't go in winter". "You'll have to take a bus". He was young and blonde and beautiful as so many Finns are but I wanted to shout things that would register with clarity in every language that my meager hopes had been dashed. I became frustrated that the very tall man who gave me directions to the ferry didn't find it necessary to inform me that the ferry doesn't run in winter and that I should just go to the bus station - since I was already AT the bus station - to get the bus to the Zoo. But maybe he's not concerned with Zoo's and ferries to Zoo's. Perhaps he thought any number of things... Maybe I just wanted to photograph the exotic beast that is the Zoo Ferry of Helsinki.
I took several photographs of the ferries looking quite exotic locked in the frozen harbor and set off toward the bus station. I arrived at the station, I found the Zoo bus (number 11 line) and stood under the shelter waiting for the next bus. 45 minutes passed. There were no more Zoo buses that day.
To be continued.