Back in March, I had written a few thoughts on my first Finnish winter. The next winter is approaching, it is time to note some thoughts on my first Finnish summer.
It was hot. YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, notes that “July was the warmest [month] since records started” and “Joensuu Airport in Liperi had the warmest Finnish day ever with the mercury hitting 37.2 degrees on the 29th of July.” In other words, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, “a middle-aged Finn will experience a hot summer of the kind enjoyed this year only once in his or her lifetime.”
After the winter, with a low of -27.3 °C, I enjoyed the three heat waves with temperatures above 30 °C, +34.8 °C having been the highest, a 62.1 °C difference (Kuopion sää, Savonia). As you may expect, the hot weather repeatedly turned the shallow lakes in the area into swimming pool like waters, without chlorine. In the summer, the waters, only minutes away from home, provide a refreshing opportunity to end a hot day, even late at night. The region is rich in opportunities for outdoor activities on land and water, from hiking, biking, kayaking, open fire grilling–and more exotic forms thereof–to naked swimming, with the Finnish guarantee of the unwritten rule that no one is watching.
But temperatures were not what made the summer special, at least not to me. It was light. On the longest day, in Kuopio, the sun rises at 03:03 and sets at 23:19, the length of the day being 20 hours and 16 minutes–compared to 4 hours and 45 minutes on the shortest day. At 1 am the light intensity is more or less what you expect on a cloudy afternoon in Fall. The sun completes almost a full circle every day, a natural spectacle that will amaze me next year as much as it has this year.
Like winter, the summer at latitude 62.8933 borders extremes–not so much for heat as for cold, but certainly for light. For the lack of light in winters you get fully compensated during summers; I’m not sure this holds for temperatures. Summers invite to spend time outside suggesting, thus, a balance for winters and the time spent indoors. However, no matter how I turn it, to me it is not the summer that makes this region truly unique, but the winter. It is the winter with its frost, ice, and countless crystals, envelop to each and every tiny form laying outside in the chill; it is the winter with its perfect white landscape, on deep blue skies, flooded with the glowing red light of a sunset at 2 pm; it is the winter that gives you to experience Kuopio, and natural beauty, at its truly best.