Temperatures have dropped down to -20 degrees in the night this week. Nights in this weather, with full moon in the sky, are very beautiful, and surprisingly light. Daytime views in the forest are very nice, too, even though there is very little snow this winter. This is good news for the rider who can comfortably ride anywhere as there is no snow blocking the bridleways and paths.

Cold weather can be felt in your bones when you live in a hundred year old log house, in spite of the central heating.  The chill of the winter air keeps creeping in little by little, but luckily we can fight back with the old fashioned Finnish weapon : the wood burning ovens and stoves.

We have a big, traditional baking oven in the biggest room of the house. It is a fairly new one, standing on a solid block of granite, the base of the massive granite oven of my childhood. The old, grey oven was so big that you could easily climb up and take a nap on top of it. It was demolished and the stones carried into the woods in the late 60’s when it was fashionable to build fireplaces. The fireplace that later occupied our big room was not a very clever invention, since it sucked away most of the warmth from the room, and blew most the of the smoke into the room…

But now we can enjoy the pleasures of the traditional oven in our house again. The heating is a longish process, which starts by hauling in the firewood from the woodshed, preferably the day before. Cold firewood burns badly ! The oven is heated by burning wood in a chamber until the desired temperature is achieved, usually 250 – 300 degrees in a domestic oven. It is good that we have modern thermometers nowadays – in the old days the mistress of the house had the correct temperature of her oven in her fingertips.

Then it is time to sweep out the coals into a another chamber inside the oven, where the coals will keep the oven warm for quite a long period, slowly releasing the most pleasant heat even the following day. In the heated oven the energetic cook can bake pies, bread, buns (the traditional « pulla »), cakes and bisquits in succession, and finally cook the food in the gentle warmth of the oven, keeping the house pleasant and cosy at the same time. The blissful luxuries of life in the country !