During my midsummer break, partly spurred by the Octavia E. Butler book I’m reading, partly by reminiscing previous summers in my life, I was idly musing on the effect our physical environments have on our expectations. Being an ex-pat, my impressions of the U.S. and the various states I’ve visited were at first based on Finland, of course, and later on the U.S. states and cities / towns I’ve lived in.
There are a few physical things I miss very much from Finland and apparently cannot stop using as a basis of reference. The summers are one. In my previous post, I referred to the Finnish summer nights. It’s difficult to describe how much light there is. Fortunately, there’s a YouTube video that’s very illustrative (pun intended).
Time lapse: the difference between summer and winter in Finland by Jussi Pakkanen shows a stationary view in the middle of winter vs. the middle of summer. It starts and ends at midday, and runs just under 5 minutes. If you’re at all curious about the very north, it’s worth your time.
This looks very familiar to me, although it’s from Helsinki (i.e., the south). I grew up about 600 km / 400 miles further north, near the Arctic Circle, which means that at midsummer it doesn’t get dark, just a little dimmer than daylight. (Technically, the sun sets around midnight for a bit, but it’s more of a dip than a proper setting.) You could easily read a book outdoors all night without a lamp.
It’s not just the light, however, that makes the nights magical. The air smells fresh, the nature is blooming – frantically taking advantage of the short growing season – and in the quiet it feels like you can hear for miles. It’s so beautiful I don’t have words for it, and I miss it sorely.