Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring lessons: hankikanto and takatalvi

Here are two Finnish words which often apply to spring, sometimes at the some time: hankikanto and takatalvi. Here are the words explained:

  • hankikanto: The time of spring when snow crust is so hard that it can support a walking person.
  • takatalvi: Recurring wintry weather in spring.

This weeked it got so cold during the night that the snow got frozen through (thus, hankikanto). And the weather forecast promises a lot of new snow for tomorrow (takatalvi). Those car owners who don't have winter tyres on need to leave the car at home.

The strong snow crust, that was excellent news. I have been waiting for it to happen, and today we had it, I mean hankikanto.

It isn't every spring that we get a strong snow crust, but usually there are spring days when this happens, at least to some degree. Sometimes the snow crust supports you if you use cross-country skis, but today it was strong enough to support a grown-up person walking.

I went for a two-hour walk in the Tremanskärr forest today, walking on top of the snow with my hiking boots. In some places the snow was so hard that there weren't any signs of someone having walked there; in some places the top of the snow crust broke but otherwise it held.

I walked across the various swamps near Tremanskärr, being careful to look for places where there was only a thin cover of snow on top of water. Mostly it was easy going, but in some places the snow wasn't hard enough to support walking.

But when the sun warmed up the day, the snow got weaker, and it started to be harder to walk, as one was sinking deeper and deeper into the snow. I tried to walk on the shadow side of the hills - north and west - where it was colder and the sun hadn't yet warmed up the snow.

In the end, when returning to the car, I resorted to walking on the ski tracks where the snow was as hard as ice. I didn't see anyone skiing, and it would have been hard going, as in many places the needles from the trees had covered the top of the snow.

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