On Melting Snow

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.)

78 responses to “On Melting Snow

  1. I had a good chuckle reading this. Your day sounds full with your little guys. Even though it’s Spring-like weather here, I’m feeling envious of your times there.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hahah! Throw a full-time job into the mix and let’s just say I didn’t exactly have time to learn to bake during the pandemic! 😅 But yes, I’m sure I’ll look back on these years with young kids longingly and I do try to enjoy all the little things 💖

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We had a very rapid thaw in the middle of last week and lost about 80% of the snow. I was surprised there wasn’t more flood warnings issued. We then got a mix of wet snow and freezing rain yesterday afternoon and evening. This is our 5th month of snow and ice, our spring and autumn seasons seem to be getting shorter each year.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Our spring is so short, too, and everything blooms at once, within a matter of days (causing allergy I don’t seem to get in tropical regions where blossoming perhaps happens more smoothly, each plant at its own pace.) As soon as it gets warm enough to ditch your winter coat, people bring out their shorts and all of a sudden it’s summer. Our autumns, however, feel quite long now. They start very early.
      Good luck with the ice puddles! I slipped this morning on ice, so slippery when wet!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Last year our spring seemed to be two weeks. We went from winter weather to summer heat very quickly. Our autumns start early but our winters start even earlier. I scraped frozen, wet snow off the car the first Monday of November last year. When the thaw started a week or so ago you could barely stand up in places with the water on top of the ice.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Sounds very familiar, all of it. Our autumn starts mid-August which is just too soon for me. Usually June is rainy so summer is very short. I’m really hoping we get some nice weather this year, especially since Covid has closed off much of the entertainment options that happen indoors. It would be nice to be able to bask in the sun… let’s see how it goes.

          Liked by 3 people

  3. A wonderful read! So, it indeed is possible to have snow in summer in Finland? I remember the summer in Helsinki being really nice, bright, blue weather, not to hot, not cold at all. In the mountains of Mallorca, where I actually one day was able to make a snow man!, they have, apart from ten seperate winds, several springs. Real spring, (march-may) but also primavera d’estiu (spring of summer, september-november) and primavera d’hivern (spring of winter, december-february) So they effectively skipped winter altogether. When I’m visiting the island again I will tell them about Finnish winters and they will be only mildly suprised. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Ahh, you’ve come a long way. There might be poop in this post, but it ends with such a positive finish, I love that. Maybe I need a couple of kids too. Tonight I dreamed I was pregnant and just about to pop. But I still love your blog name and I’m glad you chose it. In other news, I’ve just seen a documentary on Finnish nuclear waste entitled Into Eternity. Do you know it?

    Liked by 4 people

    • True, I have come a long way!
      The evolution of a blog and the person behind it, tracked for future reference!
      I’d never heard of that documentary and looked it up. Seems very interesting, I wonder where I could get my hands on it? That’s a topic we don’t talk much about 😬 Was it a good documentary? And was the Finnish solution a good one or a bad one?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Ha! I started reading this and thought, “wait… is this in Canada? I didn’t think this was in Canada…” It was all so familiar. 😀

    It sounds like you would be right at home, here on the Canadian prairies! Although we only have two seasons. Winter, and Construction.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Loved the bits about the six seasons (of which three winter-like) and the degrees of wetness of clothes. But there is also an upside to having long winters, as you make clear with your texts and photos.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hah, thank you! I think I wouldn’t mind winter if it weren’t so long. So very, very long. Around Christmas, I’m all in. But in March, I’m completely ready for warm weather and know I still have to wait 4 months til July… if I’m lucky!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Snow! Ah the spring-winter. I remember being shocked from all the dog poop during my first spring in Finland haha. It was absolutely the worst. And your blog name makes perfect sense to me! When I was still living in Finland, I visited Portugal on a school project in the second week of April. You can probably imagine the difference in weather between the two countries. While it felt like Portugal was having a full-blown summer, all the snow still hadn’t melt (end of April) when I returned to Finland. Haha. Hope you and your family are doing well! I am glad to know that you have adjusted to the weather. I kind of feel the same – but I still love balcony weather the most – who doesn’t right! 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • Pooja!!! Lovely to see you back here, I’ve sometimes thought about you and wondered how you were doing! And I know exactly what you mean by your story of traveling to Portugal from Finland and back! Returning to snow and people who are pale and sulking was always a shock and, tbh, depressing. So, what’s up in your life, tell me! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve always been jealous of people who live in cities where it snows in winter, but I never considered what it was like in that winter-spring transition. Perhaps I’ll stay in Australia (not that there’s much choice these days)

    Liked by 5 people

    • ☺️ During my blogging years, I’ve noticed that especially my Aussie and Indian readers seem to love the idea of snow and winter. But it really isn’t what you see in romantic Christmas movies or postcards, at least not over here. I have the impression that the Alpes have a lot of sun during the winter (??maybe I’m wrong) and that might be closer to that picturesque Winter Wonderland image than our Nordic winters are. Here, it’s just dark and rainy most of the time. Windy and slippery, too. Snow often comes at the wrong time, ie never for Christmas and often when other countries are starting spring. Well, there is of course Lapland, which is a different story and slightly exotic even for us living in the same country, over here in Helsinki. Many Finns like winter, though, and they have second houses in the countryside (lucky them!). As for me, having spent my formative years in Australia, I’d say your lives are much more full of outdoors activities, choices of fresh food, exciting wildlife to see, colors in nature (flowers, gardens). Yes, you have issues with drought and bushfires, that’s no fun. But not much grows over here and imported fruit tastes bland. Also, we can have a 50 degree (celcius) variation in weather: 25C in the summer and -25C during winter, which means we need to have a million different clothing items for every kind of weather. Kids grow out of them quickly and it all gets very expensive. 😅 The Mediterranean probably has the ideal climate in my eyes!

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I like all your different seasons and how you identify them through laundry. Melting snow can reveal some awful things. I think all dogs should be registered by DNA so that in the spring their generous deposits can be returned to the rightful owners.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Love your seasonal ruminations, which match those I used to have in Chicago for so many years. Like yours, those were child-rearing times, and other than the constant washing, it almost didn’t matter what season it was outside. In retrospect, I’m happy my kids grew up in a place where the school sent them outside in every kind of weather, and they had to learn to walk, ride bikes, and then drive in all kinds of slippery, mushy, yucky conditions. I know you will savor your warm, green days even more when they return!

    Liked by 4 people

    • We are two peas in a pod, Lexie ☺️ You’re right about it all. Kids are good at teaching their parents to appreciate small, everyday wonders and so the years flow by. Better enjoy the seasons while we still have them (climate change…)

      Liked by 2 people

  11. You know my feelings on snow and winter. But dog poop? What is going on? Aren’t Finns responsible for your own rubbish/animal poop? I never thought it would smell either. That is a surprise. Do they have dogpoo bags in dispensers provided by Council on the streets/parks? You need to campaign for that. As it seems if kids are jumping in it, it would be a hygiene issue!
    Bringing up kids in Finland sounds hard, that laundry pile sounds enormous. One good asoect of Australia!
    What would you choose as your blog name if you started again? I am intrigued?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dog poop has always been an issue. Not as bad as some other countries I’ve visited but still. I guess people think no one will notice and it’ll get buried in snow, not thinking further. There are bags and containers and many dog owners use them. But not all. I’ve even seen our neighbours letting their dog pee in the little kids’ sandpit in our communal backyard, nice!!!!
      As for my blog name, no idea. If I wanted it to rank well in organic searches the name should be related to the search terms I’m aiming for. So I would need to decide what my blog is about, first of all (personal musings at the moment, perhaps????) and then create a (short) name related to that.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Don’t worry about us going anywhere on terraces and restaurants and bars for springtime, darling : it ain’t happening ! Not only some of us here in France are entering their 3rd lockdown (not me.. for now..), but restaurants and bars have alltogether been closed up for half of the past year with the COVID situation and have not reaopened yet…

    The snow might be slow to melt where you are and I can’t begin to imagine how frustrating it might still be, even after all those years of trying to get accustomed to it… We had already had pretty springy days last week but woke up with a thin layer of ice this morning to “celebrate” the official first day of spring… hum hum…

    Your blog title is fantastic and sure is the most fun intended pun I’ve read ever ! 😉

    Take care, and enjoy it all ! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah this year restrictions have made us equally unable to enjoy terrace weather, but it’s also killing dreaming of faraway places to escape to. Maybe it’s good we all learn to appreciate what we have, where we are. The planet will thank us for traveling less! 😁 Take care, Juls! Are you in Paris, Avignon, somewhere in between?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m in Aix-en-Provence, enjoying the sun here and no snow at all 😉 Recapturing the essence and the beauty of a place I’ve lived away from for years, discovering fabulous new spots here and there. Seeing the glass half full with these local outdoor gems, in spite of the restrictions.
        Take care and enjoy your days !

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hah, that is how your blog name come about. I would like to trade some summer with your winter snow, not for mad 6 months though (and without poop!) but long enough to feel the chill, making snow angels and snowshoeing through the woods! Good trade eh? Haha, lots of summer here, all year long.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I, too been always intrigued about your Blog´s name but then along the way I have already got the impression.You said you loved palm trees ( also there in your logo!) and that yes, logically, snow melts in other parts, even here in Germany.Anyway, your Blog name definitely identifies with you and you are doing a great job.I think you are really cool and gret in storytelling and stuff…I admit my writing sucks!

    Hmmm yes, I can totally relate, with childrens laundry , winter weather blues and dog poop.
    I don´t like it eaither, here Germans loved their dogs like crazy.they walked them everyday but here they have those orange poop bags in every walking path ( just like they have free diaper stations!!!) so owners are quite aware of these but then there are stillsome left unattented and ended up in our children´s boots.last think I know is that they are in the doormats and doorsteps..Yuck!
    I am already looking forward to Spring, but I don´t think it would be a free as before.The numbers of victims are getting up…so I guess it´s another story again.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Oh it’s like I’m reading about my seasons here in Alberta, Canada. I take comfort in knowing it’s not just us,lol Is your weather unpredictable too? We had lightning on Saturday and today it snowed!🤦‍♀️

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hahah! Yes, ours is unpredictable, too, though luckily we don’t get many thunderstorms or any floods or hurricanes here. Thank goodness for that! Often it’s grey and rainy, 10C, no matter the season, with occasional, unpredictable breaks one way or the other 🤪🤪

      Liked by 2 people

  16. You gave a whole new twist to the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ …now we have ‘sun is brighter on the other side’..and you’re so completely right. it’s all the perspective, how we humans can adapt and accept. 💟💟

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Actually, your blog’s name was intriguing enough for me to stop by and visit from another site you’d left a comment on, and happily this article explains all! I moved to Belgium from the UK, and always thought it was very odd when Swedish friends of ours said they moved to Belgium ‘for the weather’. Surely Italy, Spain or Greece, but Belgium?! A lesson in relativity 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah! I can totally see their reasoning – seriously! Over here in Finland, people talk about ”traveling to Europe” as if we were not part of Europe, meaning the mainland, and to me it illustrates how far we actually are geographically! Thanks for stopping by. Good to hear that my SEO-unfriendly blog title still manages to attract visitors 😆

      Liked by 1 person

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