I’ve always loved the sun, which is not great in New Zealand where we are exposed to high levels of UV rays. But my love affair with the sun is even more pronounced here in Finland, where it has become something of a long distance love affair.
I realise now there is a strong difference between sunlight and sunshine. One marks the day and one warms the skin. The second is now returning after a long hiatus and seriously, I could weep with joy. Which makes a nice difference from the day I wept on the way home from Finnish class for no real reason – other than lack of Vitamin D.
I’ve done my first Finnish winter now and spring has never felt so good. The difference in the trees is amazing, week to week, and the presence of birds and flowers is increasing.
On a recent walk from Hietalahti Market Square to Merekatu I was delighted to see the outdoor market growing in size once again.
I also came across this sculpture by Rafael Saifulin called Onni.
Onni means happiness or bliss. To me he’s really captured the pleasure of feeling the sun on your face once again.
Although fairly weak, the sun is now up from 4am to 10pm in Helsinki, with a month to go until summer solstice. Miko told me he can’t go to bed until the sun goes down, but considering that won’t really be until October, honestly, he’s kidding himself.
Like most Finns we are now eating ice cream any chance we get. The funny thing is, as good as it feels, it’s still only 10 degrees outside.
But that’s okay, the sun is back and we’ve learnt to savour it while we have it.
“I’ve got sunshine, on a cloudy day,” – The Temptations
Number of winters The Temptations spent in Helsinki: zero.
Töölönlahti starting to freeze
Getting up before the sun is no big deal in Helsinki these days because the sun doesn’t get up until 9am. And by up, I mean legs over the side of the bed, still in its pyjamas.
Today’s forecast – with 3 weeks to go until the shortest day
At mid-day the sun in Helsinki sits just 8 degrees above the horizon. Which means that while we have sunlight, we often have very little sunshine. In fact, November was ‘three times gloomier than average’ with Helsinki having a total of just 12 hours of sunshine in the first 26 days.
A rare November day
So how do we cope with these grey days that seem like constant twilight? Well luckily it’s still quite novel which helps and before heading out we have a hit of Vitamin D spray every morning.
We also bought a sunlamp which wakes us by filling the room with a soft glow. This grows stronger until we wake to what feels like a room full of sunlight – it also has a setting that includes the sound of birds chirping.
Time to wake up! The fake sun has risen & the fake birds are chirping
The temperature has been sitting around 2 degrees for a month now, which means any snow we have doesn’t stick around. Last winter was very mild by Finnish standards and no snow means dark days as there’s nothing to reflect the light. So for the first time in my life I’m really hoping it will get much colder!
Perfect number plate for snow
But I’ve got a bit to learn yet about snow. I was walking home the other day admiring the flakes as they fell around me and decided to pull my hood on. What a rookie! There’s no better way to spoil a romantic mood than by dumping a whole lot of snow on your own head!
Sun and Moon times in Helsinki