When he was living in Helsinki, Antti Pöysä missed the snow and skiing. When he moved to Posio in January 2019, it happened to be the winter when it snowed there more than it had done in years.
“There was so much snow on the roof of my log cabin that the whole cabin was creaking under the strain like an old wooden ship in a heavy storm. And when we dropped the snow off from the roof, I could no longer see out of the windows.”
Antti decided to make the most out of all the snow. He came up with the idea for a project, where he would visit as many forested hills (‘vaara’ in Finnish) around the Posio area as possible. And since he had just started working as a Project Worker with the Municipality of Posio, Antti ‘topping’ the forested hills became a regular feature in the municipality’s social media channels. You can check out Antti’s posts with the hashtag #posionvaaratkahdessavuodessa (‘Posio forested hills in two years’).
“You should definitely come to Posio for freeriding. There are a lot of forested hills and even a few fells,” Antti recommends.
“I just got myself a pair of the so-called randonee skis, and can now climb up and ski down the forested hills of Posio very comfortably. Previously, I had been using forest skis for doing the same thing… I should have switched to the better gear much sooner!”
Enjoying the frugal life
After he had completed degrees in International Business in Germany and in Sustainable Development in Portugal, Antti was pondering his next move, careerwise.
“What interested me in Posio was sustainable tourism development, in which I had previously worked in in the Pyhä-Luosto national park in Lapland, and also in the Fiskars Village in Southern Finland.”
In Posio, Antti has been able to work e.g. in promoting the management of the Posio waterbodies through a project of the Finnish Water Restoration and Management Network. He is happy about the fact that when it comes to project financing, more and more attention is being paid to the effects that the projects have on natural diversity and the climate change.
“For me, being ‘grounded’ means perhaps that you don’t try to reach for the stars, but enjoy the frugal life.”
“Nature had been here long before us humans became a part of it.”
Wilderness and sandy shores
In Posio, nature provides opportunities for different activities and hobbies all year round. In the summertime, skis are replaced by canoes and kayaks. According to Antti, there is an astonishing amount of lakes and rivers, along which you can canoe/kayak for great distances, if you are adventurous enough.
“After some extensive exploring, I’ve discovered routes that take several days to complete – I’ve even dared to ask some of my friends to join me on them.”
The biggest surprise thus far has been the large number of sandy shores found in Posio.
“I have been canoeing and kayaking all over Finland and Russia, and nowhere else – especially nowhere in Finland – are there so many beaches and sandy shores. The river peninsulas are great mosquito shelters in the summer, and the sandy riverbanks make excellent places to stop and set up camp.”
A nature reserve that stretches for dozens of kilometres, all the way to the Riisitunturi fell and beyond, starts from the backyard of Antti’s log cabin.
“You can only dream about something like this in the south of Finland, and even more so in somewhere like Germany, for example, where I lived for several years in Berlin – and often missed the nature of the North.”
Kuusamo rubs you the right way
When Antti is asked about his relationship with and feelings about the neighbouring communities, an old local joke pops into his mind.
“Posio and Kuusamo share a big lake called Lake Kitka [one of the meanings of the Finnish word ‘kitka’ is ‘friction’], and the old folks love to joke about how the relationship between Posio and Kuusamo can never be completely friction-less.”
Antti reckons that in the normal day-to-day life, if the local people can’t find something in the shops in Posio they go and buy it in Kuusamo. People also go there to try out new restaurants, when the ones in Posio have become too familiar.
“It’s sometimes fun to visit the ski resorts of Ruka or Iso-Syöte to see the crowds.”
At the same time, Posio also has its own special features that cannot be found in the neighbouring municipalities.
“I always mention to any guests the gallery of ceramic artist Miki Kim in Ahola, and recommend a visit to the exhibitions and museum on the Pentik Hill Culture Centre. Then there are of course the Local History Museum in Lohiranta and the Pentik Manor art centre in Timisjärvi. And in the summertime, taking visitors to the beach and Summer Café at Lake Livojärvi is a must.”
Remote working with birds
Antti says that in Posio it’s good to work remotely from home. At the present time, the municipality of Posio allows their employees to work remotely for two days a week, as a general rule.
“In my opinion, the flexible remote work possibility is an important incentive, when the municipality is trying to attract new employees. If you have moved from Helsinki to Posio, like I have done, it would be great to be able to do longer remote work stints close to your friends and family.”
Amidst all his remote working, Antti has also been able to observe the life of the old spruce forest outside his window.
“Great tits, willow tits, Siberian tits, Eurasian blue tits, finches, pine grosbeaks and Eurasian bullfinches are frequent visitors to my bird feeding table. And the Siberian jays, Eurasian jays and great spotted woodpeckers come by to feed on the fat balls hung on a tree. There are always loads of rabbit tracks in the mornings, and in the daytime, there can be as many as five squirrels at a time scurrying around the yard.”
Help can be found online or from the locals
The small challenges that Antti has encountered whilst living in Posio are to do with mosquitos and driving. When living in the humid, swampy areas, the mosquito-free periods of summer are right at the beginning and towards the end.
“You get used to the mosquitos. You just have to have the right kind of gear – or spend your free time on the water. The locals have told me about places that are don’t have mosquitos, even in the worst ‘mossie’ seasons.”
In Posio, having your own car is more or less a must, but Antti says that the roads are always in good condition in both summer and winter.
“In the springtime, certain roads are almost impassable for a few weeks. And in the winter, the car brakes can sometimes freeze up – but there are plenty of tips for unfreezing them, if you just ask around. Heating them with a hairdryer or tapping them with a hammer in the right spot usually does the trick.”
“Problems, even the bigger ones, are put into perspective when you get to go cross-country skiing in the nearby forest, making your own tracks among the snow-covered trees.”
And according to Antti, it’s great that when living in this region, you get to enjoy a lot of the same things you would if you lived even further north, say in Fell Lapland.
“We have ski resorts, nature, wilderness and interesting jobs.”
Problems, even the bigger ones, are put into perspective when you get to go cross-country skiing in the nearby forest, making your own tracks among the snow-covered trees.