5th May 2020
Excited about Hailuoto Island
I wanted to spend some days at our free time house on Hailuoto Island in the Northern Finland to see the ice balls on the beach I had heard about.
I draw 15 kilometres from the mainland to the fishing harbour of Riutunkari in Oulu from where the ferry Merisilta would take me to Hailuoto.
Some cars in four rows would burst from the ferry to the island in 30 minutes.
The ferry trip through icy waves in the Bothnian Bay is always exciting and sometimes even frightening.
I drowe then 35 kilometers on a slippery and narrow main road to the end of the island, to the Lighthouse of Marjaniemi, it was exciting.
I had also seen photos of the beautiful ice balls in the newspaper and in social media which one November day had emerged on a shore on my dream island called Hailuoto.
That day Hailuoto was on the spot of the world!
I was angry at myself not having been on the island during the former sunny weekend to shoot the eggs and take photos of my life.
That is the island where there is always going on mysterious incidents in the Nature. You have to be always on alert!
I was a bit curious to drive to Marjaniemi, the fishing harbor at the other end of the island and would buy there some cold-smoked salmon and maybe find something to film.
I´d also buy local beer in big brown bottles and end up in the warmth of sauna.
Our red house, The House of Mrs. Santa Claus Finland, is situated in the middle of Hailuoto which is one of the 27 national landscapes of Finland because its original buildings and beautiful agricultural and fishing environments.
The island has long lived its own life overseas, far from the city of Oulu. People of Hailuoto must have been smart and trusted mainly on local help.
There are lambs, funny nationally acknowledged pullovers, fishing boats, beer of the local brewery and many artists and – the continuous wind.
Sea air is good to breath and the sun shines statistically more there than on the mainland.
What more do you want to make you happy – except love?
Unique Nature, beautiful architecture and nationally prescious landscapes
Hailuoto Island has some iconic landscapes like the lighthouse of Marjaniemi with the sandy beach by the same name.
There is also white reindeer lichen growing slowly on the sandy forest grounds with massive old trees.
Keep the saws away from my treasure trees called ”tarri”! That, in a factory colored lichen, travels all over the world for decoration purposes like for burial flowers.
Fantastic lichen is not allowed for anyone to collect, but you can freely trek in the forests of Hailuoto and pick berries and mushrooms for yourself or for sale as some people from abroad do.
Some people can even fry lichen for food!
What is dangerous in Hailuoto
It is said that there might be more moose than inhabitants on Hailuoto Island, and that is why it might be dangerous to drive if a moose suddenly jumps towards your car especially if you are in a hurry to catch the ferry.
There are round moose boobs in the forest, round like ice balls of the winter!
There are local hunters who get permits from the local government to shoot some amount of moose every autumn. The amount is about 200 moose shooting permits.
Moose steak is a local delicacy, which is sold at an auction organized only for the locals. I presume!
Why in Hailuoto and what happened there?
That day of November 2019 I saw many people walking on the beach of Marjaniemi where we so many times have been on a picnic in the summer heath or just walking towards the sunset between very delicate shore plants.
For walking there are long wooden paths built on the sand dunes to cherish the rare vegetation.
Some cars were parked on the breakwater. Usually Marjaniemi headland is a very quiet place, except occasionally shouting birds and the wind, but this day there were people with their cameras, with their telescopes, with their dogs, with their friends tossing around.
Something odd on the beach
I saw something unbelievable on the beach and my mind seemed so strange, odd, peculiar that I hardly could think.
I saw some white bits on the beach were people go sunbathing in the summer and those bits were not enormous sugar bits, nor ice cubes or snowballs, nor unexploded bombs.
Something strange emerged to the beach of Marjaniemi
The beach was full of white rounded, egg-formed pieces, ice or like dinosaur eggs. No bird eggs since the mandatory birds have flown to the South of Europe or even to Asia and Africa. There was no name in my mind on the things in the sand and in my Finnish way of thinking. I felt speechless and thoughtless. It was difficult to form one´s idea of recognizing anything since the eyes saw something completely new.
Take it easy, teacher!
As a background of a teacher I did a general view on the surroundings and located myself there as a secure person and a nature lover.
Is the view something for a hobby artist? I must have been drawing a scene in my mind.
I felt curious, not afraid at all since it was daytime, light and several people walking around on the white things looking downwards on them.
I could even escape with my car if the rounded and mysterious balls on the beach would move towards me.
I am not afraid of slowly developing experiences as I am sure I usually can cope with unexpected situations. Nature has its power and it makes what it wants.
I felt excited about some rumors I heard earlier about the ice balls being so fine and widely spread. There emerged a feeling on envy in my brain.
Nice motives of a rare scene
I must have said something aloud to myself, ”good heavens”, or something like that when I moved towards the beach with my camera equipment. I was also warmly dressed up unlike some unexperienced outsiders.
I have not seen or heard anything like this before even if I have been visiting the island many times during all the seasons, walking in the forests and fields after filming birds, picking berries, mushrooms and just for recreation, especially now during the two years we have been living occasionally at our free time house.
Winters are harsh, arctic because of the sea. Or semi-arctic as the science people correct me. Or even not arctic at all!
Of course it was confusing because the difficulty to choose which of my cameras would be the best for filming in the cold weather.
If you think someone gets crazy about good motives, I am one of them! Even if there might be a danger ahead, I would film. It is my life and I love it!
There was hardly any danger and poor sun but it was light enough during the day. Slight wind would nearly always bring disturbing elements to the sound. It did also this time!
My fears disappeared right away even if I know it is not easy to walk on ice bits. My sons are not small any more and would not spark the ice balls towards each other thinking they are in a soccer game.
If there were snow balls with our, even big sons, there might be a sudden snow war. Luckily all the hooligans were at school then!
If you think the ice balls came down from the sky, you might well imagine it, but I am disappointing you now, because the balls were just lying lazy and tempting on the beach nice and easy nearly as put there in nice rows by a machine of the Nature.
The balls did not fall from the sky I supposed.
I am disappointing you, since I am an expert of the Finnish winter! There has hardly ever been raining anything bigger than the tip of your little finger, wet snowflakes, which slightly fall down from the sky on the cheeks.
Sometimes the rain is raining tiny little ice balls, hails, of course.
An experience of a lifetime
I do not think like a man, not any bombs in my life! I am a mother, a woman and a daughter of a war veteran, so I might have a profound view towards that.
Ice balls might only be dangerous when walking on them carelessly if you do not have boots with spikes or proper rubber boots as I had.
I tried to collect a heap of them between my arms but found it impossible since they were too slippery.
I had no one to talk to, even if I like experiencing alone in the Nature if I focus on filming and shooting sunsets, fields, stones, sand, grass, birds, ice, snow and sea in storm or tranquility. Sharing afterwards was my plan.
What a great idea of making lanterns
The ice balls were fabulous; oval, rounded, white or beige, different sized from a tiny little tennis ball to a soccer ball or like at least three soccer balls put together.
The biggest ones were ugly, dark and full of sand and snowy ice. The nicest ones were like a big white polished snake or Ostrich eggs, perfect in shape and gathered on the sand and stones like they´d always been there.
Some eggs were like scattered with sugar.
A local photographer had told about his dream to make ice ball lanterns on the beach and make the island famous for that. I suppose the weather was too harsh and the aim too ideal. No one would be interested.
I saw there a couple of lonely lanterns he must have made just by himself. Afterwards people would have participated if they´d only knew! Many newsagents have contacted him for the photos of iceballs.
Three stories of iceballs starting from Kalevala epics
I thought about the story how Finland was born according to Kalevala, the national epics of Finland, that maybe it has got its origin from the Bothnian Gulf and the ice balls. The Nature might have been creating iceballs earlier, too, in favourable conditions, when the temperature was around zero and sea water slightly waved towards the shore. Imagine!
Lady Ilmatar was lying in the sea water and her knees were above the surface. There was a bird, called Sotka, which laid seven eggs on them.
The yellow part of the egg became the Sun, the white part the Moon and the rest of the eggs the stars on the Sky.
Another story is about the giants which lived around the island. One giant was sitting in the sea on a stone, as it presumed, finally it noticed it was an enormous fish.
It got angry and threw all the stones around the Bothnian Gulf. One stone was Hailuoto, now the biggest island in the Bothnian Gulf.
The third story is a newer one and it was told by a child, our five year old grandchild as his father had brought 25 kilos European perch he had fished through ice holes near Hailuoto in the Bothnian Gulf.
The roe from some of the female perches look like little ice eggs! He gathered.
How Hailuoto is linked to personal story Mrs. Santa Claus Finland
Hailuoto, the island of stories has been a pearl for our family since 1982 when I as a young mother was breastfeeding our first baby boy.
The other son was running there with his dad and playing soccer on the same beach. In the coming years the third and finally also the youngest son.
After so many years of dreaming and finally getting a free time house there, drawing once at Marjaniemi while my four sons were fighting in the back of the car, and that we now have had the house for two years with our four sons and their families.
We have found thousands of pearls on the beach of Marjaniemi. Our life has had some brown pearls but mostly shiny and beautiful ice eggs. Pearls of life.
If I forget how the ice eggs look like, I go to my fridge and try to weight the originals as I took some them home to the mainland and might find a lonely straw inside one ice ball.