We are writing from a little village called Utsjoki from northern Finland (69.883 N, 27.017 E). We are here
in the northernmost corner of EU (European Union) and the Teno River is the border between Norway and Finland.
It is famous for its salmon and we think salmon is the best fish in the world.
Ice-out is quite an important event in our village. It usually takes place in May. Every year our elementary school
arranges an Ice-Out Betting. You are supposed to guess the exact date, hour and minute when the special signpost
passes the betting line in the river. The main prize is a river boat. The money collected goes to school trips.
When the ice blocks start to move everyone is anxious to see how they rush down with power! People gather along
the riverside and the betting station to watch. Perhaps the ice is the last proof of winter. It is a good-bye to
winter and a welcome to summer with open arms. Fishermen are really eagerly waiting for the ice-out. It means the
beginning of the season.
Sometimes the ice just melts down without any show, some other time it breaks up so noisily you can hear it from
distances. The River Teno used to flood so much that that one year people had to row boats in their own yards!
But this is unusual nowadays. The bridge to our neighbours has broken many times, however. The water gets quite
high normally. One year the ice floe took a sauna with it. This was a bit funny because there were people having
a bath in the sauna at the time. They had to rush out in such a hurry they didn't have time to get dressed!
When the ice breaks up the Nature shows how powerful it is. And we do need it to realize how small and weak we
are. It makes us feel small, but also great: to be part of something so wonderful!
Winter in Utsjoki
By Suvi Somby
Winter is usually very cold. One winter, many years ago, we had over -50 C degrees below zero. It was really
cold and we didn`t have to go to school because it was so cold. In winter we have usually -10 to -30 c degrees
below zero. It isn`t that cold and we can be outside and do things. Things like drive a snowmobile or do outside
snow works. But when it is really cold, like -30 or -40 c degrees below zero, it´s better to stay inside.
Snow is the heart of winter. In winter it is quite dark in evenings and at nights. But from November to December
it is very dark all the time, because it is the period of darkness "The Polar Night". So snow is white
and it "glows" to the dark sky and gives us light. Some years we have very much snow (it can be even
over one meter) but usually 40-70 cm. Of course, it is good that we have a lot of snow, because then we can drive
snowmobile, ski and play icehockey on the lake.
The big light to see here in Lapland is Aurora Borealis, The Northern Lights. You can see them in the sky at night,
when it is really cold. They won`t last long and they are gone in a couple of hours. They are bright and shining
"lights" in the sky. You couldn`t miss them.
Outdoor life is many-sided in Utsjoki. You can drive snowmobile, ski, play icehockey, you can go hunting (for example
you can hunt elk and ptarmigan), you can snowboard and riding is also very nice in winter. When you are riding,
somebody can be behind you and she/he has skiis and you pull her/him. I can say that`s really fun! You can also
do that with a reindeer.