Strange things are done in the midnight sun. Though under the midday moon, life moves quietly. Winds gain their Arctic edge as they travel across the Baltic to corral everyone indoors. Inside homes, shops, restaurants and taverns, warmth is the pleasure to which everything else comes second. Coffee houses are retreats for baked goods, hot beverages, and wool blankets.
Creamy fish soup made with handfuls of chunky pink salmon. Meatballs with mashed potatoes and Lingonberry jam. Pan fried and butter drenched herring. Cured reindeer, fish and horse meat. A light meal is hard to come by, and not much use when found. This is January at 60 degrees north – and boy is it cold in Helsinki!
It’s not always this way. The frozen ocean that locals now walk their dogs on will thaw before summer and ease tides on popular beaches not too far away. The seasonal monopoly that labor takes on maritime culture gets broken by leisure as Fins boat off to island county homes. This beautiful city does turn outdoors, and celebrates 18-hour-long summer days with markets, festivals, and more.
It’s a warming thought, though not warming enough to bring feeling back into numb toes, ears and cherry red noses. Three layers, top and bottom, doubled socks, and a thickly knit cap is standard should comfort be top priority. A windy street can encourage walkers to change route.
There is beauty in this climate’s severity. Its impact is so strong. Walking on-top the frozen ocean with a city view hindsight is one way to experience it. Another is observing the sky’s moods curled up opposite side an insulated window absent any itinerary. The Nordic winter seems to afford everyone who suffers it the luxury of time. At least more so than where climate’s are always favorable to activity. Given the contrast said to exist during summer, Helsinki regimens a life balance that is particularly suited for rest and reflection in winter months.