White Nights, Magical Nights

When it comes to Finland, people only talk about the winter and the snow. Also about the Northern Lights. I don’t understand why they never mention the midnight sun or the summer of Finland? Even though it’s cooler and shorter than what we are usually used to, it’s still fascinating. Especially here in Rovaniemi, Lapland where the sun doesn’t set down from June till mid-July. For those who were not born in one of the Nordic countries, summer means the heat trembling above the asphalt. It’s the mute heatwave in the afternoons. The heavy scent of the hot air. The murmur of the beach, the salty sweat running down on your skin, flip flops and light summer dresses. The sweaty dust dried on your bare feet. Melting ice cream, cold watermelon, salty boiled corn on the cob. Down there, in the south, summer nights are equal with a starry sky, full moon, and night swimming.

Here in Finland summer is different. Everything starts a bit later. Mayday might be snowy. Lilacs don’t start to blossom in May. June is often rainy and unfriendly. But when nature finally wakes up from its long dream, it’s worth everything! Finnish summer is green, fresh and vivid. Finnish summer is the blue lakes, the sunbeams dancing on the waves. It’s the golden rye fields, the late night sunsets shining like Rubin. Boating, the scent of strawberry, the burning wood in the sauna next to a lake and grilled corn. It’s wearing a wind jacket and rubber boots. Swimming naked at 10 pm in the sunshine.

The Nordic summer night is light. There’s no darkness here, only the dusk. It’s constant twilight without darkness. The northern you go, the more sunshine you get! Close to the Arctic Circle from June till mid-July, there’s no sunset at all. The sky is starless. There’s no moon. The midnight sun shines into your eyes. It draws shadows on the wall, creeps in between the stripes of the shutter. Night to day is not distinguished by the lightness but by the number of people walking down the street. If you can’t see anyone, it’s the night. If you can see only a few, then it’s daytime.

Since I’ve been living in Lapland, I saw the bonfire under the midnight sun. I saw the golden bridge crossing the river in the middle of the night. Orange-painted pine branches and seagulls flying into the rising smoke of the bonfire. I saw the sun shining brightly at 4 am.

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Finnish summer is different. The nightless nights of Lapland can’t be compared to those hot, moonlit summer nights at all. Still… I do believe, if you have ever stood by the river Kemijoki under the midnight sun, you will always long for Lapland. No matter wherever the path of your life takes you from here.

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