Summer in Finland is like a short but intense love affair. We make everything we can of it, because we know another long and cold winter is waiting just around the corner. This summer has been hot. Very hot, by Finnish standards. We’ve gone to bed sweaty, woke up sweaty, gone to work sweaty. My skin has felt constantly sticky, my coloring deepened by the sun.
Summer in Finland is making the most of what’s given to us. Eating typical summer foods, swimming in the sea, lying in the sun, even when it’s too hot to really enjoy. It’s endless summer nights, spent watching the sunset, then the sunrise a couple hours later. It’s bare legs and mosquito bites. Picking wild strawberries and threading them onto a strand of wild grass, like a string of rubies. Eating them, one by one, savoring the taste. It’s blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, eaten with milk and sugar. Barbeques with friends, a sauna by the lake. Summer in Finland is all these things, and more.
It’s stupid socialist 5-week vacations, 20 hours of light a day. It’s thunderstorms, rain and hail. It’s camping and road trips and days on the beach. It’s ice cream and rowboats and sea gulls and hedgehogs. It’s silly romance novels and laundry drying in the sun outside. It’s drinks with ice, live music and dance. It’s love and romance and time with your family. And it's hardly any snow.
The last weeks in July, newspapers in Finland announced that we were experiencing the hottest summer in 23 years. But a couple of days ago, when July turned to August, autumn came knocking. As if someone had flicked a switch, the warm summer mornings that left you longing for a cold drink turned cool. Suddenly, I found myself wanting to go back in to get a sweater. The days are still warm, summery, even, but the nights are quietly telling you that fall will soon color the leaves red. Red like the wild strawberries on that blade of grass.
I’m looking forward to fall. To the beautiful colors and the crisp air. I love fall mornings when you can taste the cold on the air. I love fall nights when the wind is howling and the rain keeps everyone inside. I love leaving work to an already dark afternoon, and lighting candles at home.
We still have a little summer left, though, and in Finland, we enjoy every last moment of warmth and light. We drink it in, so that when the winter is at its coldest, we can already tell by the lightening skies that summer will soon be here again.
This picture is from the home M grew up in, where the gooseberries are ripe, and the sun still warms the grass under your feet. But you can tell it’ll soon be over.