Friday, July 15, 2011

Koli (national park)

Koli, 15 July 2011. Foto Laila Alanen
The Koli mountain is one of the most familiar national landscapes of Finland. I got to visit the mountain for the first time, climbing on top of the Ukko Koli ("Old Man Koli") with its magnificent views, carefully protected from visible marks of modernization. We sailed over the Lake Pielinen from Lieksa on the car ferry Pielinen enjoying a lunch of freshly caught kuha (zander) during the two hour trip. On the image above the white dot is the ferry returning from Koli to Lieksa. Koli images are famous in Finland, including classic photographs by I.K. Inha and paintings by Eero Järnefelt (a brother-in-law of Jean Sibelius). Koli had a profound influence on Sibelius, as well. Koli has been a familiar sight in movies, too, mostly in travelogues and tourist films, but I don't spontaneously remember a fiction film shot on the Koli. (Except Doctor Zhivago, where the landscape stands for Russia. From IMDb I also discover Sampo, Unna ja Nuuk, and Kulkurin masurkka). My first impression of Koli is that it looks the same as in the famous images of 100-150 years ago. The difference is in the sense of perspective, the wide horizon, the infinity, the eternity, and the freedom of the look, which no images can reproduce. Koli is a popular holiday target, but that does not affect the sense of the sublime at all. Rather the shared awe enhances it.

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