Vituttaa kuin pikku oravaa kun käpy on jäässä.

-- Traditional Finnish proverb

This delightfully descriptive little metaphor is how Finns express the torments of Tantalus, when something is so close, yet so far away, or alternatively, just being annoyed and unable to do anything about it. The Finnish vituttaa (lit. "cunted") is quite a bit more obscene than the English version, so various bowdlerized versions are also common.

The metaphor is taken straight from Finnish nature. Squirrels are quite a common sight in Finland, even in the cities. As they do not hibernate, they can often be seen in the winter hopping about on the snow in search of food, a major component of which is the seeds within pine cones. I have to admit that I have never personally seen a pissed-off squirrel gnawing at a cone that has frozen solid, but the mental image is funny.

The mere phrase "little squirrel" (pikkuorava) also invokes memories of a supremely annoying kids' show and cassette tape series involving the exploits of Alvin and the Chipmunks, best known for singing Christmas carols after inhaling several balloons of helium (or at least that's the way it sounded). Having the overly cute little buggers starve to death with frozen pine cones in their paws would only be poetic justice.

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