Sometimes in summer I find myself missing Finland like crazy; the quiet streets basking in never-fading light, the clamoring of seagulls at the public market by our quiet inland sea, the rattling of old green and gold street cars as you're trying to bike in front of them on cobblestone streets...The scent of lilacs in the garden in the morning...
The shadows of sailboats against the old harbor. Sun glinting off the golden onion cupolas of the Russian Orthodox cathedral. Clusters of small islands on the lake, dotted with with blue smoke from so many saunas. The sound of oars on water as fishing nets are dribbled in behind the boat. Swimming at the public pool, the smell of chlorine and juice-boxes and sandwiches.
Walking home on the shore at midnight, the ocean as calm as a mirror. Eating small, whole fish from a paper wrapper on the market place. Fields of wildflowers undulating in the silence of midsummer's night. A cuckoo calling out from the pine woods.
Fields of lilies of the valley blossoming out of the mossy ground in the woods. Jumping out of a rowboat onto the swaying dock. The smell of fresh birch branches wafting out of the sauna. Season's first potatoes with butter and picked herring and dill weed. Magpies flying in the yard. Sun on the old stone buildings. Kids skipping rope.
The city's parks brimming with people, the narrow strip of grass between two busy roads littered with summer dresses, striped shirts, children running in primary colors. The colors of everyone's summer clothes in fact, bold, bright, as though they had just newly hatched from their drab winter cocoons.
An antipodean friend once remarked on how suddenly, in spring and summer, beautiful girls appear everywhere in Finland. "Where are they all winter?" He wondered, eyes trailing after this green summer frock, radiant smile, or shorts-clad bottom. An age-old Scandinavian mystery.
And while we're on the topic of the Finnish summer girl, Kesäneito: I have to say, whatever charms she may lack in winter she receives thousand fold in the few brief summer months. She wears flowers, birds, green, red, yellow, clogs, dancing shoes, goes bare foot.
She goes to folk dances in old industrial neighborhoods and hundred-year-old halls, she walks home through the empty streets at dawn, when the sun is up but the city looks deserted, she sun bathes on the rocky cliffs of inland islands and bikes around small towns.
There is something utterly magical about Scandinavia in the summer and lately I've been living it vicariously trough this blog. It might seem funny to experience your national identity so strongly through clothes, but as I've opined time and time again, clothes to me are personal expression and cultural markers, a language, and that in spite the globalization of our dressing there is still such a thing as national style. The Finnish Kesäneito is only in her true element in The Land of Nightless Nights.
Sometimes I miss being her.