23 Jul '15

100 Days of Summer

As I write this, I am dreaming of my late summer holiday at my family’s cottage in Finland. I am typing by an open window in Brixton, where only screaming sirens break the constant hum of traffic. In one of the dozen tiny Victorian gardens, kids play their summer games, dogs bark.

I am trying to ignore the noise and concentrate on a quiet summer holiday in Finland.

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For some of you, it might come as a surprise that Finland even has a summer – a proper, hot summer. But we do have it, and it lasts about a hundred days (and as many nights as during summer months the sun never sets).

And we Finns, we embrace our summer with passion that can only have been brewed during the rest 265 days of the year: by mid-February “when summer arrives, I will…” is probably the most typical opening for a conversation. And to match the hopeful tone of the sentence, there are tons of activities to choose from when the summer finally arrives: whether you wish to participate in a welly throwing or wife-carrying competitions (not the other way round), or play volleyball knee-deep in mud, Finnish summer has got it.

We have festivals for operagoers, heavy metal fans, jazz enthusiasts and folk music lovers. Helsinki is an upcoming foodie destination, and in the middle of the Savonian forrest, you can find a perfect British afternoon tea.

Where these outings get their participants, I have no clue, as for me, it seems that as soon as possible each Finn pack their car with cooler bags and stacks of unread books, hit the road, and head deep into the woods or far away to the islands for their summer cottages.

For me, small everyday routines are the best part of Finnish ‘cottaging’, mökkeily: when there is not much to do, you do each little task with diligence you cannot afford in your city routines. Take for example the special ‘pot coffee’, pannukahvi, I only make at the cottage: it is close to a sacred ritual to prepare the first brew of the morning, as it sets the pace for the rest of the day. There are some tricks and superstitions on how to make a perfect batch, and it is a time-consuming effort, but what the heck, time is all you have when you are doing nothing at the summer cottage.

At the cottage, when the clutter and noise of city life are reduced to the minimum, life shows its best qualities: days pass by reading, enjoying saunas and swimming in the glittering lake.

Until it’s time to pack the car with empty cooler bags and stacks of read books, and start driving back to the city. We are ready for the winter again.

This is a guest blog from Paula Hotti; a writer and translator living in between Finland and London. You can get a glimpse of Paula’s coffee infused thoughts in www.sateenmuruja.com and twitter.