‘Hoo-va orta vu^orta’ *

Today I paid a vast amount of cash to stand, squeezed onto an overcrowded train headed for London. I was then herded down to the underground where I finally managed to board yet another overcrowded sardine tin, to finally be delivered at my destination over half an hour late, slightly stressed and wondering how the hell we all got it so wrong.

Just a few days ago I was stood, hip high in snow, in the middle of a forest where if I screamed out loud (as loud as I screamed in my head this morning), no one would hear. Maybe a snow hare. Maybe a 400 year old spruce tree. But the sound would be deadened by the vast snow and ice lakes and wouldn’t reach the nearest person several kilometres away.

The juxtaposition is overwhelming.

I could, and I most likely will, bang on about northern Finland for the rest of my days. It caught my imagination and grabbed at my heart with its long shadows and rose-gold light. Everything there seemed so untouched by our fast-paced and materialistically driven lives. The air so pure that lichen hung in masses from the trees and tap water that even tasted good. But it also made me sad that our selfish actions will impact this natural beauty, and these incredible places across the globe that we might never have the pleasure of experiencing.

Much earlier last year I made the commitment to use less plastic, compost more, consume less, save water… all the things we should have been doing for years but never quite found the time to get round to (too much of the first paragraph). I switched to using old fashioned natural soap (no packaging – tick), cleaning using natural products and just water (no packaging, no chemicals – tick), we went all middle class and ordered veg box deliveries (organic, no packaging – tick), reusable water bottles and mugs (tick tick tick). Great. Effort made, slight smug feeling… and then we went to Finland. It just doesn’t seem enough. We are not doing enough. It feels like we are fighting back the tide.

There’s a new year’s resolution in there.

We need to slow down, consider more, consume less, be kinder.

And then the juxtaposition swings back when I remember that the nature guide Laura, who informed me of so many of the wonderful facts about Salla and the local flora and forna, works summer times for Shell to make enough money to return to the guiding work she loves so much. An email pings in from one of my online galleries to tell me I have sold a painting to a customer in the USA. Great! A little money to put in the Annapurna pot… but what about the cost of the air miles on the planet? We can try as hard as we can, but we are all hypocrites. I just hope we can balance ourselves out.

*Now you can say Happy New Year in Finnish, get in!

You won’t be balancing out much of your carbon footprint, but you can help a starving artist trek a long way at high altitude all in the name of supporting the arts, and that’s almost as good. Please pop over to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/karina-fraser to find out all the info, pledge and make this world a lil bit better.


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