BACK TO THE ROOTS
I sip on pot coffee from the depths of my memory-soaked guksi. With it I am enjoying some home-made, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, as is appropriate.
Wandering in the nature has been my favourite pastime ever since I was a child. I love following the changing of the seasons, especially autumn’s swift retreat into hibernation, the descend of the first snow, soon followed by the fresh growth reaching up under the white blankets in springtime. In the embrace of the outdoors the mind unwinds, and we gain new perspective on everything. Add some delicious food to the outing, preferably shared with someone, and you have found the recipe to happiness.
Good food, whether brought from home or cooked outdoors, turns an outing into a true trek.
Cooking food outdoors, especially on a campfire, is not a hurried person’s activity. It takes patience. Chopping logs, cutting them up and shaving off pieces of tinder. Lighting them up, waiting patiently for the food to cook in the warmth of the flames. I guess part of the magic of outdoors food is that it forces you to sit down and let things take their required time. While waiting for the food you can just let yourself be. Don’t have to answer to a couple of more e-mails, and the thought of scrolling through the social media feed doesn’t even cross the mind.
The senses awaken. You notice the silvery shades of a deadwood. How the lines on the pine bark crisscross, each in their own, unique directions. You sense the surrounding sounds and scents – or the lack of them. The thick blankets of midwinter bury everything fragrant under frost and crown snow-load, silencing the rustles and swishes of trees. How wondrous it feels when nature starts brimming with scents again in the late winter and early spring. The resin of conifer needles, the pure water revealing itself under a sheet of ice. When you hear the birds singing and a stream murmuring.
There’s rarely time to just be, even if staying still is exactly what I notice I’ve been missing. The forest wipes the mind clean and lifts a smile on the lips. Where would I have been rushing to, anyway?
After the potatoes have roasted on the campfire it is time to continue cooking. Onions, spices, kale, dried funnel chanterelles that I collected in the autumn as well as some tofu make their way on to the pan. The rest goes by quickly. Indian tofu and funnel chanterelle scramble is ready. I spread a blanket on the glittering, frost-hardened snow in the middle of a white birch forest. I focus on the flavours while I eat, enjoying myself. The simple ingredients have developed a smoky aroma from the campfire. That alone is reason enough to enjoy a dinner out in the woods.
For me, life’s luxuries mean being able to live so close to mires, beautiful forests and rustic leantos with their campfires that one can visit them even during weekdays after work. Even greater luxury is to gather the edible treasures of nature during the late summer and autumn, all the way up to the frost-bitten cranberries. The preserved colours and flavours of nature bring joy to the long winter. Nothing tops a bowl of oatmeal with honey, cinnamon and golden cloudberries.
I’ve always said that I don’t need my own yard or a cottage.For me, nature is the place I can retreat to, relax in and where I can prepare delicious food.
Text & Photo Saara Atula