This winter has been longer and snowier than usual and many Finns have told me that they have had enough. I'm glad to see some Finns still having fun with Winter. This hill is very close to my apartment and I walk over it to get to the center of Jyvaskyla. The sledders are university students. Fox imagery is very common in Finland in children's books, post cards, fabrics and posters.
Today was a beautiful cloudless day and the first day I needed sunglasses since I arrived on January 8! So different than Colorado where I wear sunglasses everyday. In the morning, I went nordic skiing with a fellow Fulbrighter, Kerry, and in the afternoon went ice skating on the Jyvasjarvi, Lake Jyvaskyla.
The Lake was busy with all sorts of winter enthusiasts: ice skaters, ice skiers, nordic skiers, sledders, chair sledders, walkers, and picnic-ers. I saw a couple sitting on a bench surrounded by snow drinking coffee from a thermos and eating "pulla", a generic term for baked sweet treats eaten with coffee. Being outside and exercising is important to the Finns and the frozen lake is a great place to do it. A perfect Finnish day!
Finland is known for both and I didn't think I see them at the same event. Today all over the country was the Angry Birds Go Snow event. (For those who don't know, Angry Birds was created by a Finnish company and first released in 2009.) The event provides free use of nordic skis, snowshoes and sleds for kids and encourages families to recreate outdoors, have fun and enjoy being in nature.
There was a real life Angry Birds game to play in which players launched stuffed Angry Birds with thera bands (like the ones from physical therapy) hoping to knock off stuffed pigs sitting atop wooden poles.
The location of the event in Jyvaskyla is beautiful: a cabin set on the edge of a frozen and snow covered lake with groomed nordic trails all around. The cabin has about 6 or 8 tables each table had two votive candles, a fireplace, a simple concession area with coffee, tea and snacks for sale including sausages to cook in the fireplace. A small building close by houses the sauna. The building is part of a recreation association that anyone can join which provides a base for summer and winter outdoor activities. Check it out http://www.jyvaskylanlatu.fi/
A new storage building at the association is in the works and the insulation is made with Eco Vili or "eco wool" make from a recycled paper product. Recycling and sustainable living and building are visible everywhere in Finland and reflect how Finn's feel about the natural environment: they respect it and want to keep it as pristine as possible.
I am a high school art teacher from Boulder Valley School District in Colorado studying craft education in Jyvaskyla, Finland. I am in Finland through a grant from the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching program and the Fulbright Finland Foundation.