Monday, February 1, 2010

Power in the lines

After a weekend packed with two days of work and one exhilarating evening with my two best friends in Turku, I returned to Tampere by train. I've been travelling in trains quite a lot during my life. (Six years ago I underwent women's voluntary military service here in Finland. The garrisons I served in were both pretty far off, so I travelled around 9 to 10 hours a week, mostly in trains.)

There are many things one can do in a train. One of my favourite pastimes is to watch the railroad overhead wires hanging against the sky. Because the sky is often rather featureless and the train is moving quite fast, I soon get the feeling that I am standing still and the wires are the ones that do the movement. Watching them rush forward, cross each other, duck under bridges and avoiding poles is relaxing and extremely hypnotizing. I often listen to the music at the same time and always end up thinking about staff lines, because the wires seem to be moving in the rhythm with the music. The dance with the wires also reminds me of young calves when they get to the spring paddock for the first time. They are leaping around in joy, curious to find out what's behind the next pole.

I am obsessed with power lines in general, too. Currently, I live right next to a railroad and during these severe frosts in Finland this winter I've been adoring the bright blue sparkle between the train pantograph and the contact wire while passing. (When it's cold and moist enough, the wires get frosty and the watery connection forces the electricity to be visible.) Especially when it's dark the sparkle is bright enough to light up my whole room and the surrounding scenery as well with its gloomy cold power. (Heh, the blue-cold notion again. The wires have 25 000 volts and the sparkle can reach 5000 degrees C, so not that "cold"!)

Also plain power lines are close to my heart. When I see power grid lines, I'm often thinking how the electricity hastes through the cables with almost the speed of light across the country. No rush hours, no street jams. Just electromagnetics and pure power. When I was a kid, I thought the grid poles always seemed to look like giant men who are holding the cables up so that they won't touch the ground. Sometimes I just go for a walk outside to follow the lines or to take pics of them. My favourite power pole is located close to the place I used to live in. I always thought it looks like some character from Transformers firing its weapons.

Power line

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