Stop and smell the roses

When I first arrived in Finland in 1995, I got quite a shock when I came from the sub-tropical weather of the eastern Australian summer in Brisbane to study in the icy environment of eastern Finland in Joensuu. But I loved it!

This January, I got the chance to go back on a short business trip, once again in the heart of winter. Of course, there were a few changes, yet Joensuu didn’t really look hugely different to how it was 24 years ago. I could easily find my way around the downtown area, and it was fun to reminisce.

After that, I travelled by bus to Kuopio, almost 140 kilometres away in a roughly north-westerly direction. It was my first time in the northern Savo area, but I didn’t remain in the urban centre. I went on a short hike for a couple of hours.

Just a short walk away from the flat where I was staying, there was a thick forest covered in deep snow. The temperature was a cool -15oC. To an Australian like me, that sounds very cold, but with the right clothes on, you don’t really notice the chill at all. Only the uncovered parts of your face feel the pinch of the frosty air. It seemed a long way from civilization, but as you can see in the photo, I was actually close to the famous Puijo ski jump – but not quite so close that any jumpers could reach me!

Although I’m no botanist, I believe the trees in this area are mostly spruce and pine. They were all covered in a blanket of white snow. The only humans present were me and my two friends. Besides our dog, there were no animals: no deer, bears, rabbits, birds, or even insects. The air was still, and it wasn’t snowing. It was very calm and very quiet.

Research tells us that there are plenty of health benefits to walking in a forest, including lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, a better immune system, improved concentration – the list is long. I really noticed how good I felt! Our visit to the forest was spontaneous, and I’m glad I went. At the time, I said to my friends that it was almost a spiritual experience.

The blog on this site is mostly about work. But my point in this post is to encourage you to take a break when you can and enjoy local nature spots, even when you travel on business. It’s good for you, and you’ll work more efficiently afterwards.

Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing you in 2019.