Winterstanders

Temperatures below zero Celsius, every living thing around me in deep-frozen hibernation. I visited Jyväskylä, Finland (62.2426° N, 25.7473° E) in 2018, a town known for its modernist architectural heritage, the hometown of Alvar Aalto (1898-1978). I found the town and its people sound asleep, but was intrigued by the mysterious power of a the forest in the mid-winter. Instead of visiting the architectural sites, I spent most of my time wandering through the forest and the edges of the town. I was drawn to the effect of deep winter on the landscape. It was my second time in the same forests - my previous visit was in the peak of summer, and I remember the luscious shades of green and almost hearing the sounds of plants growing under the midnight sun.

 

This time,  I found the forests under snow cover, and there was no midnight sun but a perpetual darkness of northern polar night. In an environment with very little light, details had to be carefully teased out. Finally, what initially seemed like grey, static, frozen, textureless view, appeared through the camera lens as fairytale territory.  Winter had re-shaped the familiar signs of forest life into forms that seemed to me dark and alien, almost unrecognisable. The forest was full of contemplative spiritual energy: a slowly accumulating layered landscape, changing day by day as snow kept falling. Walking in the forest, I felt caught between reality and fantasy. The forest had been awakened by the spirit deep in nature, while the city continued its sleep.

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© 2019 by Chiu Yee Ling