Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer break

I’ve been taking a long break from blogging, mostly due to some holiday travels with the family and a home renovation project that’s keeping us busier than usual for this time of the year.  Our family vacation this summer was a walking holiday in the Italian Alps and a very abbreviated Midsummer celebration in Finland, which I hope to write about in future posts.  But for now, I’m just happy to be enjoying a glorious Finnish summer. 

I never really knew how to appreciate summer until I moved here.  In fact, the last few years I lived in Georgia I had grown to hate summer – it was way too hot and way too long – and I couldn’t wait for the first crisp mornings of autumn. 

Here in Finland, I can’t get enough of the season.  By definition, it can’t get too hot here for my taste.  I say that, though to be honest we were sweltering a bit last week when temperatures soared to nearly 30 degrees (about 85 F).  We don’t have air conditioning in our house and only one tiny table fan, so on those few really hot days (by Finnish standards, that is), we have to rely on cross ventilation.  That’s usually enough, though it was so hot last week that, even with all the doors and windows open wide, it started to get sweaty inside.  The only thing that helped were occasional trips to the basement to cool off. 

But those days are rare here, and this year we were also lucky enough to avoid the other, darker, side of Finnish summers – the nonstop rainsqualls that can last for days.  Fortunately, we were in Italy the week in June that the Finnish summer decided to take a nasty and wet detour.  Other than that, Helsinki has been experiencing an exceptionally fine summer.  In fact, while rain showers and even thunderstorms have hit other parts of the country, Helsinki has been by-passed completely, and it’s actually become a bit too dry here. 

As someone who grew up in the southern US, I find it quaint how much attention gets paid to the few thunderstorms that do occur in Finland.  Unlike Georgia, where there can be almost daily storms in summer, Helsinki gets maybe only half a dozen thunderstorms in the whole season.  (My daughter and I were caught out in one of those while kayaking last summer.) 

It’s true that, lying on the coast as it does, Helsinki has more moderate weather than the Finnish interior.  Still, nowhere in the country do you experience anything like the kind of violent weather that often rakes across parts of the US, especially in spring.  And Finns should be thankful for that.  So far this year, at least 15 Georgian have died in severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.  A relative living in my home town recently found a piece of paper from the town of Piedmont – 135 kilometers away in neighboring Alabama – that was carried and deposited by the storms that swept through southern states on April 27th killing over 300 people.  Nothing like that happens here in the calm climate of Finland. 

Even when a Finnish thunderstorm does form, it’s a much more sedate affair.  Back in Georgia, a typical day in high summer often starts out clear, hot and humid, with the heat building up until by afternoon towering thunderheads loom above.  Then a storm lets loose with some serious thunder and lighting, and everything cools down until the next day. 

In Finland, this same cycle can also take place during the hottest part of summer, but in slow motion.  Here we’ll sometimes have three or four days of non-stop hot and sunny weather that eventually results in a whole day of more-or-less stormy, at least rainy, weather followed by a few cooler, cloudy days before clear skies return.  Compared to Georgia storms, it’s plain boring. 

Still, as much as I enjoy watching the spectacular displays of lighting that we often have back in Georgia, when you consider the tragedy that sometimes comes along with it, I guess I can’t complain about boring, and never-too-hot, summers in Finland – as long as there’s plenty of sunshine.  


  1. Sounds as if you've acclimated quite well to Finland!

    Strangely, I've traveled to two places where you're not supposed to ever worry about air conditioning, and in both of those places it got Georgia-hot and Georgia-muggy while we were there. One was in Imperial Beach California where, due to proximity to the ocean, it normally never gets too hot and, due to its proximity to the desert, never gets humid. So almost no one has air conditioning. Imagine our surprise when--during our stay--it got both hot and muggy and there was nowhere to hide.

    Second time was one July in Bar Harbor Maine where it likewise rarely gets hot. We go up there...and the temperature hits 93 degrees! In this case we were fortunate in that our hotel sat right on the ocean and the wind was blowing in over the sea which was very cold, so we stayed comfortable.

    You never know...

  2. I guess I have adapted to the weather here. Looking back, I can't believe how when I lived in Georgia I went all summer wearing jeans (and had no air condition in any car I ever owned). When I visit nowadays I can't survive without shorts and AC (at least in the car). AC is more common here in Finland than a few years ago, at least in offices and public transport. Used to be that buses had no AC, which made getting around town in summer miserable.