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Raking and cleaning

About a month ago the big oak in my yard let go off its leaves. The yard was covered by a mat of dry brown oak leaves. Usually I'd just leave them rot there, thinking that it is just fertilization for the lawn. Then some of my friends came for a visit, and one of them started raking the yard. Soon we all joined, and with three people raking we got a far bigger area cleared than I would've imagined. Since that, every morning I go out and see the nice clean raked yard I've felt cozy and happy. I don't know why it is, but somehow it feels like a raked yard is a symbol of taking care, being at home, loving ones home. (At my home that still means that the raked area is a small portion of the yard, leaving a plenty of wilder areas where flowers and grass can grow tall - on those areas the leaves can just rot there to fertilize the soil). And, as I think of it - so many years it has been like this: I'd like to get the yard raked, but since it isn't absolutely necessary I always find other things to do, postponing the raking. And then the winter comes, the dead oak leaves freeze to the soil and get covered by snow. So I'm very happy to have friends who occasionally visit and help me with maintaining the household.

And there has been some talk about Finnish people raking and cleaning their forests. Yup, there is still that kind of work to be done. I mean, working to clean some storm-felled trees from the neighbours' forest. I've been enjoying the work. Doing simple physical work is somewhat meditative; just being present in the moment, swinging an axe to cut branches, feeling the bodily posture and balance, breathing. And having a lunch break out in the woods; coffee and canned pea-soup cooked on a portable stove. A woodpecker drumming a dead tree nearby. A distant bark of a dog. The gentle hum of the wind. Fresh clean below-freezing winter air in the nostrils, in the lungs. The aroma of black coffee. I kept on working until the evening dusk (which is around 4pm at this time of the year), carrying some smaller trees and piling them up in such a place from where they can be picked up by a tractor.

As I walked back home, carrying all my tools, I celebrated the joy of simple life - usually after work I drive a car to get back home. Walking in the darkening dusk makes me feel more unhurried, more present and connected with nature. Yes, this is the kind of a life I want to live. Doing some work to earn a little money, and then having enough time both for rest and revovery and for working outdoors to sustain myself, so that the work doesn't yield money but food, warmth and other basic necessites. During the years of writing this blog I've had some success in reducing the amount of time I spend working for money, freeing up more time for these more simple and direct ways of sustaining myself.

But, wait, did I say "just being present in the moment"? Let's take a close look at what it means when it comes to cutting brances of storm-felled trees. That will result in a small clean tree trunk laying on forest floor. As a such it isn't anything immediately usable for me. But later on the log will get transported to my yard. The coming spring I'll cut the logs to blocks and chop the blocks to firewood. Then the firewood will be left drying for one year. And finally, in the autumn of 2020 they will be ready to be used for cooking food and heating the house. And, also, for heating up the sauna to wash up and to relax. (And, heating up water to wash dishes and do the laundry. A lot of basic things of my life depend on having dry firewood available.) So, basically, the work I do today will bear fruit after two years. How is that 'being present in the moment'? Shouldn't I say more like 'thinking about the future, planning ahead, adjusting my immediate plans based on long-term goals'. Well, kind of a yes, but the way I see it these two ways don't rule each other out. If I decide to do something which will yield results only after two years, that doesn't mean that I should not enjoy the very moment of doing the work. No, on the contrary, these perspectives get intertwined. When I see a log laying on the forest floor I don't see it as a useless nuisance which just needs to be worked on for some vague future reason - I see the log means firewood-to-be, and the work feels immediately meaningful because of that. So, I'd guess, when I say 'to be present in the moment' I mostly just mean that while doing simple practical work my mind is not wandering around pondering other stuff, but I enjoy being mostly just focused at the task at hand - how to best cut this branch here and how to best move this heavy log for five metres to that direction.

Having a lunch break in the woods.
Having a lunch break in the woods.
The evening dusk.
The evening dusk.
382 users have voted.


I envy your life my friend. I love reading your blog. I wish I could do as you. Your friend from America.

Erkka,.my wise friend, the only other person I know living the moment properly is my 5 year old Bella. Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring life and thoughts.

My favorite post in a while. Thank you. I am slightly envious at times. :)


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