1 October: Arrived by train in Helsinki yesterday evening. The terrain between Rovaniemi and Helsinki didn’t change noticeably from what I’d seen before. As I’ve learned both visually and by talking to Finns, this is not a mountainous country; I think someone said the highest peak is only a little over a thousand meters, and most of the rest is rolling hill and valley without significant relief. Still, the fall colors were very nice and my seatmate on the train showed me pictures on her laptop from a recent hike in a national park; even without mountains or even many trees, the color, the low-growing foliage I so much admire, and the unbroken landscape were pleasing to see. When I was in Imani a guide took me out to an area along a river; pretty much the usual topography, with mostly pines mixed with some birch and spruce, but the groundcover attracts me strongly—low-growing, as expected, with a variety of mosses, grasses, and forbs, lichen-covered rocks, when they aren’t, like the tree stumps, grown completely over by the cover plants; astonishing richness, plants that use their short growing season and its very long days to best advantage—knowing better than to go high but using their few inches above ground in what is surely the best possible way. The trees are all about the same height, 30’-40’ and according to the guide about 50 years old. She didn’t know why they were the same height, but I can think of no explanation other than logging or some other area-wide destructive event.


Photo by Tapio Haaja on Unsplash

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