The Mustarinda I returned to at the start of September was very different to the one I left. The landscape anew with different colours and a different feel. Snow didn't cover the forest floor, the Birch trees had leafs (all shades of yellow through orange). I spent the first week or so picking up where I left off, getting in contact with the various locals I had met in May and starting a few of the projects I had planned:
- Caught up with Markku and joined him on several hunting trips. Lots of walking through the forest alongside his trusted hound Hermes. Lucky there are berries and mushrooms to pick during the quite patches.
- Spent some time with Liisa (local farmer) learning how to forage for food in the forest, finding many berries and mushrooms. Some fishing as well!
- Started making a traditional Tommi Knife (local design) with Hyrynsalmi blacksmith Mauri at a group workshop put on by Hyrynsalmi Municipality at the school. This has been attended by various people from the community, of various ages and experience.
- In the process of learning more about the forest and its place society/spirituality in the recent and distant history of this area.
- Learning how to make fire with rocks and local plants, and how to make char cloth.
- Visited recently opened National Park north of Mustarinda, as well as spending some time circumnavigating the Paljakka Nature Reserve nearby.
- Compiling footage and playing with video and audio in my practice for the first time. Also making a photo series focusing on the various skills/relationships I have learnt while in this part of Finland.
This month (October) I will be continuing this research: hopefully meeting up with local hunters for the elk season; finish making my knife; learn about a few more mushrooms; return to the Nature Reserve; and checking out the Environmental Specimen Bank.