Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Uniquely Finland

It is quite common to walk everywhere in Finland. Walk for fun, walk to supermarket, walk to city center. After all, who needs a car when it is -9.4 F (-23C), like it was today. Just put on a layer of clothes, and then another, and then another, and possibly even one more, warm socks, sturdy boots, hat and you are ready to walk all day! The Finns are even nice enough to snowplow the roads and then pack all the snow onto the walkways.


And yes, there are indeed snow plows that run fairly often on the roads for those who are patient enough to plug their car into the heat block, wait x hours, scrape the snow off, scrape the ice off and cross fingers that the car even starts.

Wait a minute... that doesn't look too different from the walking path! Apparently scraping all the snow off the roads is quite impossible, it's quite a permanent landscape feature.

And then there are those that have determined they would rather walk everywhere and cross fingers that car still starts in spring when snow (some day) melts, like this guy.

                                                                 I don't envy that guy.

In fact, here in Finland, there is so much snow that one can even get a job shoveling the snow off of the roofs of buildings such as supermarkets.

They even have fancy cables to strap them to the roof so they don't slip and fall. At least that's job security for you, there will always be snow to shovel here.

Most of the time it's so cold here that the snow just stays, never melts. And then sometimes it gets warm enough that it snows more. So almost everyday there is new snow, fresh snow. I have seen schoolchildren skiing home from school, carrying ice skates across their back for some after-school skating and many Finns partaking in the national past-time of drinking lots and lots of warm coffee (kahvi). But here, snow and ice and below zero temperatures are quite the norm and Finns somehow manage to run an efficient society. While back in the states, entire cities would shut down at even the thought of these numbers (temperatures, amounts of snow), here it's just a standard way of life and you just strap on warm clothing and boots and hat, open the door to the outside world, and face the day, same as any other. Though it is true that even the Finns admit it is cold on days like today.

But every morning I wake up and look out the window and see this tree:

And everyday the snow is still there. It doesn't go away and sometimes there is even more snow. And it's such an amazing and joyous sight that I am thankful and happy to be in such a wonderful country. Kiitos Suomi. In the words of Egotrippi,

"Hei älä koskaan ikinä muutu
pysy aina tuollaisena kuin nyt oot."

T. Kati