The English language news website Finland Today reported that recently the weather in Mäntsälä in southern Finland had “exceeded the definition of hot,” which in Finland is defined as 25ºC (77ºF). They’re not used to that. Last year, the Summer Solstice Festival in Rovaniemi in Northern Finland was interrupted by a snowstorm.
We may envy their cool summers, but they pay for it. Even as far “south” as Helsinki, in the summertime it never really gets dark at night; at 2 AM, it’s like twilight. Getting the kids to bed at a reasonable hour must be a real struggle. If it weren’t for sleep masks, Maggie and I wouldn’t have been to sleep yet. You can bet it’s the other way around in the winter. People tell us that in winter, it never gets fully light; they get a few hours of dim to moderate sunshine in the middle of the day, and then it’s night again.
Us simple folks from Austin aren’t used to this. Our weather is a different brand of crazy. In the springtime, we’re keeping a lookout for lightning, tornadoes and flash floods – sometimes on the same day – but hardly anybody worries about freezing to death at the ROT Rally in June. We define “hot” a whole different way. If we try to fry an egg on the sidewalk and it’s hard boiled by the time it hits the ground, it’s hot. In Finland, “hot” is when you leave the parka at home. In the summertime, Austinites avoid the sun at all costs. Here, people find a sunny spot and bask like lizards. They’re not so much tanning as building up a store of Vitamin D to last through the winter. While we’re shivering in our coats, they’re sending their kids out to play in shorts and T-shirts.
You have to give the Finns credit though – they’ve learned to thrive in a place where the sun barely rises all winter long. We would be suicidal; Finland is the fifth happiest country on earth. Maybe they’re nuts; maybe Finns, like Texans, have learned to brag about their bad weather; or maybe this is the weather us lily-white people are genetically adapted to, we’ve just convinced ourselves that the Sun Belt is where we belong. It’s hard to say, but they’re definitely on to something that we could learn from.