Glimpses of a Pineapple Summer in the North

I just read about a guy who had rescued a girl from the ocean when he was a teenager, and a decade later they had met and gotten married. Then one day, much later, they’d realised that they had already met.

Imagine that – rescuing the person you are going to meet and marry one day far away in the future. Not only changing the destiny of the person who was about to meet their fate, but also changing the path your own life would take. Doing something your future self would be very grateful for. Creating those exact kids who wouldn’t exist otherwise.

In general, the very fact that we were born is very random. That you happen to be you, and not a version somewhere between you and your sibling. That you were conceived this month and not that month means you happened to get these genes and not those genes, that you have this type of personality and not another kind.

At work today, we were talking about how differently everyone perceives temperatures. For one of my colleagues, the ideal is 15-20 °C, for another it’s over 25 °C. I side with the over 25 girl, as most of you would know. It’s already summer here – spring came and went – and 20 °C is considered warm weather. I’m not complaining – I’ll take it.

I also recently read that the Baltic Sea has, for a long time, been the most polluted sea in the world. And so my suspicions were confirmed. My colleague at work suggested I go swim in it, not realising it’s polluted because that’s the image we like to give ourselves of the country we live in: it’s the cleanest in the world.

Yes, it is very clean and green, but the sea is still polluted, no matter how much you ignore it. Most people here own two houses, the second being a lakeside summer house where they retreat during summer. No wonder they don’t even notice the sea is polluted when they can swim in a nice lake. For those of us who own zero homes and just rent one, there is no escape into serenity. We see the pollution all year round. And we also see people swimming and fishing in it. Letting their kids do so.

This city has never been a good place to spend the summer, since it’s mostly closed and there isn’t much to do except go to a bar. Inventiveness used for creating summer events and venues: nil. This place comes alive in the winter. It wasn’t designed for summer use since people have flocked to their lakeside homes. Maybe this summer will change things? Maybe the city will slowly grow and embrace summer? Maybe in five years’ time it’ll be different? Maybe there’ll be more outdoors pools? Now we only have 3 outdoors pools for over half a million residents.

Having said that, no, I don’t have the summer blues, not at all. Corona has actually made me appreciate this little Nordic country I live in, finally. Things have been handled in a very civilized manner. Also, working from home combined with some sunshine have both lifted my mood enormously. I feel grateful.

They are saying there aren’t enough berry pickers this year, due to border restrictions. Locals are too slow and expensive, they would rather use imported labor. Berries have always been super expensive over here in the city, but this year I suspect their prices will rocket. Ironically, those fortunate enough to own a summer house will very likely also have free berries they can pick.

Like those workers, imported pineapple is way cheaper than local strawberries, and I just had some today. Here’s to a pineapple summer then, cin cin!

80 responses to “Glimpses of a Pineapple Summer in the North

  1. There are so many permutations of how our lives could have ended up, and who we could have ended up with. When I met my wife (who I didn’t rescue from the ocean), I felt such a pull towards her that I couldn’t get her out of my mind (and still can’t). It was almost like destiny. I know it’s not, but it just felt so right. Still does.

    In Canada, far away from your nordic clime, it’s 25oC and sunny just now. We suffered through snow (as you do), and all hated it, no matter how much we tell ourselves we’re a winter-faring population. In reality, we kind of hate it. If I wipe out on ice one more time, I’m going to have a permanent bruise on my ass.

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    • Oh if only you knew how much I’ve ranted about winter wonderland over here on my blog through the years! I named my blog after weather, too. I’m very much on the same page with you: winter really isn’t fun at all. Slippery or snowy, grey or black. Not my cup of tea! But many Finns love winter, the sun gives them a headache and makes it hard to sleep!

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  2. Cool pictures and story! I didn’t realise the city is made for winter, but after the explaining of the summer houses I do understand. Aren’t the Swedes about the same in their – wonderful coloured – wooden houses along millions of lakes? Maybe there is the possibiity of some secret giggles for the poor souls who have to stay in the city while munching pineapples. The summer house dwellers won’t have time to dwell that much – they need to pick berries. 🙂

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  3. “In general, the very fact that we were born is very random” .. True words. That plus everything else that’s going on in the world puts in mind the old saying … “there but for the grace of God go I.”
    We have the same farm labor issue here in Canada. Farmers depend on labor from Mexico, South America & Jamaica for the growing and harvesting of crops. Because of pandemic & border delays, higher prices for fresh fruit & veg is expected.
    On the other hand, my city is well equipped for the summer — assuming the parks, pools & rec centers open soon.

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  4. lol, here’s to pineapple summers then 😀 in your images Helsinki strikes me as a very clean city, if you visit here you’ll appreciate it, trust me… 🙂 love the photos, Snow, filled with sunshine and mood boosting vibes, much like your writing, lovely post ♥

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  5. I like your story about the young couple. You’ve dusted off the cobwebs of my memory and reminded me of an old sci-fi story about what might have been. Another young couple meets a man on the train (I think) who has a ‘what-if’ machine. They ask him questions and he shows them – what if the tram hadn’t lurched and thrown the two of them together? What if … there was a selection of them which I don’t remember, but in the end the couple don’t want to hear any more about how random their relationship is!
    Enjoy your pineapples. Who needs local fruit when you can have some from the other side of the world!
    Oh, and are you writing a novel? I noticed NaNoWriMo at the top of your list of followed blogs. It’s a great idea. You can get a long way into a novel in a month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shipping pineapples all the way from Costa Rica isn’t friendly to the environment but I’m secretly happy to be able to enjoy them – they bring a taste of summer, just like strawberries do.
      Ah, I wish I was writing a novel, at the moment I’m just toying with the thought! I followed NaNoWriMo and even signed up, but still haven’t done anything! (I also signed up as a volunteer to write for a local twin families’ association and theye en approved two of my ideas for an article and an ongoing column – but to my embarrassment I’ve been too wiped out to actually write anything. The article and column were written by someone else in the end – but at least I can take credit for the ideas!)
      Have you tried NaNoWriMo?

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      • I haven’t done the event itself, but I’ve used the idea behind it a couple of times, picking a month and then cranking out 1500 words a day without editing, critiquing, or even worrying whether it makes sense. All that stuff can come later. It was quite energizing in a way, but I never did end up with a completed novel!
        Don’t be too hard on yourself about writing now. Two little kids, a job, a pandemic, and everything else going on is a lot to handle. Times change and kids grow up though. One thing I will say is that everything is rarely just so for creative writing. At some point, and this is where NaNoWriMo comes in, a would-be writer just has to say, ‘Screw it. I want to do this. I’m going to do this.’ In the meantime, you can always come up with ideas and write them down, ready to go.

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        • That’s good advice, thanks Graham. I do think that’s the way: just start writing something. That’s how I begin all my little writing tasks, so why not begin a big one the same way. I actually started writing a novel once, 5 years ago. I had a clear vision of it. But then time ran out again and I was consumed by my day job. I don’t know if I’d be able to get in that zone again, I’d probably have to start a completely different novel.

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  6. Lucky are the Finns with a summerhouse: something I won’t have either, but I do have the sunshine, I guess. I find it strange that things don’t happen in Helsinki in summer – aren’t there some concerts, at least? Do you mean kiddie activities? I remember coming across one concert in the main city park and that beautiful glassed in gazebo style restaurant was packed out with people. It was early summer. You will have to make your own fun.
    I didn’t think of the Baltic as being more polluted than some of the waterways of China or America. What is that about?
    Re that randomness of our existence- it does my head in to think about it. But happenstance and serendipity does happen!
    My sister in law dated her cousin for a while till they realized the connection and I have told you about me being related to my friend.
    Happenstance happens more than we would think?

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    • Well, before corona summer festivals were a big thing here. But not my cuppa: people drunk and lining up to dry toilets, crowds, noise… and most importantly, I don’t like the music. Well, there are a couple of exceptions (a jazz festival and an ethnic festival) but to keep this reply from becoming a novel, let’s just leave it at that! (In Helsinki, for example, there’s a festival called ”Pain” for heavy music lovers, e.g. screaming men with scary clothes. Not for me, thanks!) I find that for kids, this city offers more. What I would like is to swim swim swim. No water parks, limited water sports (join a club, etc), no outdoors cinema (except a trial last year which was booked out immediately and a drive-in event during corona, also sold out and INDOORS. They drove their cars indoors to watch a film! I don’t really get that.) No street parties or wine&paint or park concerts or outdoors yoga (except during corona, also very limited). It’s like people never cared because 99% of Finns spend their summers at their summer house in the countryside. But Helsinki has become more international and I suspect many of the younger generations will feel rootless like I do, with no family here to inherit these houses from. So maybe it will change. This is the capital, after all!!!

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      • I think with time, these things will come. Helsinki reminds me of an early Brisbane. Little to do and people retreating to the Gold Coast beaches all summer long. Nothing happening. Now the population is larger and many southerers have moved here, events happen all the time especially in summer – when we should be indoors out of the sun!!!
        The heavy metal music festival sounds awful! I would hate that.
        I am afraid that if I had a Finnish summer lakehouse, I would not ever want to leave.

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  7. My Norwegian colleagues take having a cabin as a God-given right. The other day, Friday, I was presenting on a Teams meeting and every single one of them was happily in their cabin with fjord vistas and broadband faster than the crap we have over in London W4 (thank you, Richard Branson!). I feel your pain!

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  8. Interesting insight… I wonder why our societies can’t be satisfied with what they have in their hands and with people near by. Why can’t they change even a little bit? I’m so fed up with marketing strategies and capitalist views on our way of life, we feel trapped in something that is not manageable anymore, which destroys solidarity, real human realationships, with no respect to people’s working conditions and right for a decent salary. It’s disheartening…

    Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy a walk by the lake and get to pick up free berries too! 😉 Those little things can create an awesome day and fabulous memories!
    Cheers to you!
    Jul’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Juls! 😍 Lakeside walks aren’t on my agenda unfortunately, because I don’t have access to them. There are a couple of little lakes here near Helsinki but they are always crowded like an amusement park! Not exactly the zen experience everyone else is having at their private lakeside properties, surrounded by midnight sunsets and silence.

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          • Plenty of ideas but everything will happen one day at a time, according to what’s possible and how far we’re allowed to go from home…
            Hiking and skydiving obviously are first on the list! Enjoying the calm and quiet of out-of-the-beaten-path villages in rural France, spending time with family, maybe getting trained in permaculture at some point…

            What about you?

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            • Oh my, so skydiving is what you miss the most?!! Yikes!!! 😬 But how does that fit with your zero-waste lifestyle? (Well, it’s still a thousand times greener than how the rest of us live 😂) Are you in France permanently now? Holbox looked so amazing on your blog.

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              • Ahaha currently working with cognitive dissonance about my skydiving and living as zero waste as possible! But as long as I’m doing my best in everything else, I allow a little self-indulgence 😉

                Holbox island sure was paradise on earth and I’m so very grateful for the opportunity to discover it and live there for a while.
                Life has other paths in store for me now… I’ll try and see where they lead me 😊

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    • Well, I pay taxes etc worth 1/3 of my income and then my employer also pays taxes for employing me, so I can understand it must be tempting to hire people from poorer countries who demand less in pay, perform better in jobs like picking (which locals are too picky for anyway – pun intended!) and then if they can get away without paying any taxes then even better!! Tax paying is quite strictly monitored over here but I’m sure many employers know some tricks.

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  9. We are also having the same problem re fruit picking! But I love the sound of a pineapple summer… my immediate thought is pina colada!! I am envious of those with summer houses, it must be lovely to have somewhere to escape to. I am feeling the cabin fever starting now that the weather is getting better (although having said that it is stormy at the moment!) and I have no idea what sort of ‘holiday’ we may be able to take this year, if any. Although I have also found myself appreciating my flat and surroundings more during this lockdown period than I have ever before. I am 100% with you on the over 25 degrees temp!! We have been lucky enough to have experienced a bit of that already in the UK…it’s been a treat!

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    • I agree with everything you said! For me, cabin fever is more like swimming fever, I really wish I could SWIM. But I’m not stepping in that polluted sea and I’m out of options. Last time I really swam properly was in Aruba in 2012!!!!! 😱 It just feels like such a shame to not be able to fulfill yourself in such a simple way. And then I keep hearing from people who don’t even like summer how they went swimming every day or did stand-up paddling in their own private lake shores! Goddammit! I’m annoyed at our capital city for not arranging more outdoors pools here. Not because of corona but just in general. They should’ve done it ages ago, our 3 pools are always ridiculously full. Aaaanyway, thanks very much for the chat! 😊 Enjoy your week!

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      • Aaah, yes, being able to go for a swim (in nice water!!) would so lovely! It is a bit of a trip to the seaside here…and to be honest I have no desire to go! Unfortunately the beaches are always heaving when it’s nice weather and I don’t particularly want to swim in the sea. We only have a few outdoor pools but again and like yours, they are always so busy. I do not blame you in the slightest about not wanting to go swimming in that sea, I had no idea it was so polluted!! But can we just talk Aruba for a second!! Wow, how was that?? Just the name conjures up fabulous images of sun sea and sand in my mind! I’m just going to daydream about that for a while….:-)

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  10. I enjoyed all the random musings (said in a good way!) here, but please tell me more about the couple in the first paragraph! I am so intrigued and a Google search was not fruitful. (Accidentally sort of got back to pineapples there … haha)

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  11. Of course, I immediately went and read that (and watched the video)! What a crazy and wonderful story! I’m sure there are more of them, too; I have often witnessed the strange interconnectedness of people all over the world (including some pretty good ones in our own family). Thanks for sharing, and I won’t tell a soul about your source – haha!

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  12. As you know, I’ve just come back from Paris. Museums and cultural places are not opened yet. Festivals are cancelled. But Paris is as lively as ever. The river banks are filled with little groups of people who come to settle down and read, drink, eat, have a chat, exercise, play games, dance, play music… It is extraordinary to see that the locals have found their own way to appreciate simple pleasures. Heart-warming & powerful.
    Enjoy the sunshine and the summer fruit while it lasts.

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  13. I think Helsinki is a bit different these days, more lively even in summer. I was just commenting to a friend yesterday how Helsinki is absolutely dead in Midsummer and she gave me a strange look. She claimed that this may have been the situation 10 years ago but not any longer. LOL! Yesterday the Old Church Park was filled with people enjoying the beautiful weather even though there are no tourists around yet 🙂

    Btw, we don’t have a summer cottage but the forests near our house have lots of blueberries to pick. If we’re around when they are ripe, I will definitely be there with a bucket in hand!

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    • Hmm, well it wasn’t long ago that we went to Kaivari to see the Midsummer bonfire and despite the crowd, all the cafes and kiosks were closed. What a missed business opportunity! Last year we wanted to show the boys a bonfire but the kids’ early version included an entrance fee which was too expensive, considering we would just be there a short moment. There haven’t been that many options generally. If there’s an event, there’s just one. Like Flow for example, it’s too crowded and hipster for my taste. I would rather so something water-sporty. Even swimming schools are super crowded, two colleagues just told me. That part is still ahead of us.
      Last summer ended up being spent almost entirely in differen kids’ playgrounds, which there are a plentiful number of and all of them are slightly different from each other so there was a lot to explore.
      I usually don’t know anyone who is in town for Midsummer besides us – corona has changed this slightly as many have postponed their vacations towards the end of summer. We don’t really have any forests in my part of town but I do remember picking urban raspberries when I was a teen. They all had spiders in them! 😁

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      • The bonfire event sounds disappointing. I’ve often come upon such missed business opportunities, it’s bizarre. But perhaps they can’t even get people to work on Midsummer 🤔 The playgrounds sound good and free lunch for the kids too!

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        • The cafes are entrepreneurs so if they really were business-minded, they would’ve worked themselves and stuffed their pockets full of euros. But maybe the cafes are just a hobby and they were vaycaying at the cabins…? 🤔 But the playground& kids’ events scene here has really impressed me! Before corona, we even went to some free ”Jazz for kids” concerts!

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  14. Fascinating, thought-feeding and colour-coordinated post. Trying to imagine how being more like my sister would be like. And you try not to burn. As my father knows, tomorrow the polar circle will be hotter than here by the Med. 😀 Pineapple is good, berries are good. But mango is better.

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    • I think it’s pretty impossible to put berries and fruit in an order of which is best 😆 But maybe my favorite is passion fruit after all. I eat it year round – thanks to imports. Otherwise I’d just be eating potatoe!
      Today it’s a cool, windy 19C in Helsinki (”feels like 15C), don’t know about Lapland but I can tell you that the air feels different in the Mediterranean: heavier, more humid.

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  15. That’s such a fascinating story about the couple! We seem to be having a berry issue as well. Recently my grocery story had no strawberries or blueberries. Not even a space for them. I know some people who grow strawberries in their garden around here so I may have to start doing that in the future.

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  16. 25 degrees as I have guessed, Snow. :). Your post reminded me of this K-Drama I watched called Hyde, Jekyll and Me. Saved the girl when they were teens, met again in the future but not recognizing each other right away, and then eventually married her. Hahaha 🙂

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