As the winter drags on (and on, and on…), little birds are telling me it’s already quite warm and springy-blossomy elsewhere in Europe.
This is the exact setup that inspired my blog’s name back in the day: while friends abroad had already experienced their tiny little stint of winter and were preparing for sunnies-on-and-let’s-get-drinks-at-the-local-cafe-terrace, basking in magical spring sunlight, we were still very much in the middle of ice hockey tournaments and dressing layer upon layer for a mere 5 minute outing.
And that used to bother me. Well, “bother me” is an understatement. It used to drive me mad!
But now… I have found peace, possibly due to the change in perspective that having kids inevitably brings you, or simply because I have been here for too many years in a row now and have gotten used to it.
Honestly, I think that’s how most Finns get by: they simply forget that the sun shines in most other parts of the world more than it does here. They convince themselves 6-month-winters are okay and tolerable, and wait patiently for the one week of warmish weather that will come at any unpredictable moment between June and August (most probably the one week you are not on annual leave).
Thankfully, I have now realised that there is more to life than sunshine, and all the benefits it brings along with it – outdoors activities like simply sitting on a park bench or having a picnic, that little extra dose of Vitamin D that absorbs better than the one you get from a bottle… the smiling, content faces of kids eating strawberries messily, the annoying but beautiful tan lines you secretly don’t want to hide… all those things that disappear when winter hits.
Yes, there is more to life now and if I named my blog today, it would surely be named something else. Something simpler and more SEO friendly, perhaps, although unique names must be harder and harder to come by as the years go by, and more and more people join social media in its numerous forms.
Is the number of user names and blog titles infinite, I wonder, or can we just utterly run out of them at some point?
These days, I barely have time to look out the window and notice the weather. The one moment I surely will notice it, however, is when my darlings come home from daycare and their clothes are either:
a) soaked wet up til their knees and elbows in ice cold water = the snow is about to melt and there are lots of puddles
b) completely soaked in muddy water, layer upon layer harder and harder to peel off = the snow is mostly gone and now they bathe in mud like Peppa Pig, every mother’s dream!
c) only wet around their necks = it’s snowy, they have thrown snowballs in each others’ winter overalls, or
d) dry but everything is covered in sand = there is no snow, it might be summer
Socks are the ultimate measuring tool: woollen socks dripping mud = winter, thin socks full of sand = summer.
Our washing machine is on all day every day and still I can’t keep up with the piles of laundry.
Did you know that Helsinki actually has 6 seasons? There’s:
Spring – when we get allergies and the streets are dusty
Summer – it’s finally green and flowery
Autumn – the leaves are pretty
Autumn-winter – the leaves are still pretty but now it’s getting very cold
Winter – it’s completely dark and you can’t see anything, and it’s icy and slippery too
Spring-winter – the sun makes an appearance and the snow melts ever so slowly, then it snows some more, then it melts again, then it snows…
Each of them lasts for about 2 months and my least favourite is spring-winter, aka dog poop season. The time when layers of half-a-year-old snow start melting away to reveal 6 months’ worth of dog poop. Old poop, fresh poop, and everything in between. The snow forms deep puddles, the poop gets mixed in the puddles. Kids jump in the poop puddles and mums get to have fun tidying up at home. While you are cleaning, the kids run around in their wet and muddy socks and it gets everywhere.
You later on find sand in your bed and wonder if it’s dried dog poop or just regular sand. By then, you’re too tired to change the sheets so you just ignore it and go to sleep.
Now, if you ever meet a Finn in real life, don’t tell them I mentioned our 6 seasons because, officially, they don’t exist and our winter is only three months long.
Finns follow the official dates which tell them when each season begins and ends, and these dates in the solstice almanac have nothing to do with reality. But Finns will persistently refer to these dates, as if snow was a regular part of each season instead of an indication of winter weather. For example, winter is supposed to start just before Christmas but we might’ve had snow already for 2 months by then.
In June, Finns celebrate Midsummer (summer solstice) but sometimes there’s sleet or hail then. You don’t entirely believe in summer when it arrives, because snow might make a comeback at any time. There is a name for this, too, which isn’t easily translatable but refers to an unwanted cold spell in a season that should be warmer.
My blog’s name came from watching piles of snow that didn’t melt and knowing that elsewhere winter was long gone. That was six years ago. With Covid locking us all in our home regions, knowing that spring has arrived elsewhere suddenly feels unimportant. I don’t have the option to travel, so it doesn’t give me an itch to go book a flight somewhere.
Instead, I’m still here, taking it day by day, thinking of things to do locally when everything is closed and outdoors is just wet, wet, wet. And I think to myself, things could always be worse. I’m pretty lucky.
(But my blog’s name could still be a bit more search engine friendly.)