I would like to share you some of our best moments during the holidays in Finland. We were there in July when it was not super hot, yet nice to swim, play and practice yoga outside as well as enjoy the berries and other fresh food from the nature.
1. Strawberries (raspberries, blueberries and cloudberries too)
You can find all the berries from the nature: forest pathside, swamps. Equally delicious versions of strawberries and raspberries grow in my mother’s garden. Here is a catch of wild strawberries from the path side. The season for strawberries is short, just a few weeks in July. Literally everyone is eating strawberries in large quantities. We would visit our friends and see a box of 20 litres on the table. The kind guidance was to “help yourself with as many strawberries as you wish”. The blueberries grow only in the forest, they were getting ripe a bit later this year as the beginning of the summer had been chilly. All berries have a very intensive, sweet taste due to the quick ripening and long sunny days. The best thing is that the berries a not only super delicious but super healthy too! There are full of vitamins, antioxidants, fibres and minerals.
Read more about health benefits of berries: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-strawberries-blueberries-blackberries-4515.html
There is a feeling of cleanness in the air, water and vegetation; in the nature of Finland or other Scandinavian countries. I love the water of the lakes and mildly salted sea. Water is so clean and clear, it is like a soothing bath once your body gets used to temperature of the fresh water. The air and forests are in a symbiosiscreating a breathing rhythm for the clean northern air. There is also a feeling of space as the the land is vast for the 5 Million people living there. Only in Helsinki you might encounter a crowd of people. However, that will not happen during the holidays, as in July practically all Finns are on summer holidays and disappeared to their kesämökki -summer cottage (there are 187,888 lakes and 500 400 summer cottages – called mökki in Finnish). I was reading articles in the newspapers during my holidays where tourists were wondering about closed restaurants or shops during their holidays in Finland. Especially during the midsummer weekend it can become tricky: http://www.hs.fi/kaupunki/a1305964367281 (video in English)
3. Family and friends
The Finns are known as introvert, quiet people who keep their word. After over 15 years of living of living abroad I have truly come to appreciate the honesty, generosity and warm hearts of my Finnish family and friends. Here we have just arrived and are spending the afternoon in my parents garden: 2 of my aunts, my sister and her daughters came right away to meet me and my sons. The earliest human inhabitants in Finland have been there since the end of ice age.From that perspective, it is only a short time ago that electricity and modern convenience has taken place. Thousands of years of survival in a country where most of the year is cold and dark has certainly left a trace in the characteristics of me and my fellow Finns:
When I was younger, I always said my favorite animal was a bird: I was thinking of a high flying eagle, somewhat lonely, living in solitude yet experiencing an extreme freedom. The Finnish freedom has to do with the security of the country: it has the 3rd lowest level of corruption in the whole world https://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results and the crime rates are low compared to other developed countries. Culturally we are independent people and in the upbringing that is highlighted by giving children the freedom to come and go to school by themselves from the first grade onwards, educational system is based on self-motivation and typically young people move away from home at the age of 18. My children love the freedom in Finland too: the ability to get out of the door, run to the neighbour or to the tennis court, knock on the door or window and generally just not being controlled by adults all the times. Read about 10 pillars of a good childhood, a Finnish perspective by professor Lea Pulkkinen from Jyväskylä University: http://www.acei.org/programs-initiatives/ten-pillars-of-a-good-childhood-a-finnish-perspective.html
4. Yoga with friends, anytime, everywhere
Where ever I went, whoever I met, they all wanted to try out Gotta Joga with me. So we improvised yoga mats in the garden or living room if raining, selected a suitable program for the morning, day or evening and practiced yoga with my mom, my friends, my sisters children or sometimes just by myself stretching the body after an evening that had gone long by chatting to morning hours. Sonia is a 12-year old gymnast daughter of a friend of mine. With her family we spent a few fantastic days in photogenic Ostrobothnia (Pohjanmaa in Finnish, Österbotten in Swedish). One day we found this unknown beach from Kvarken (http://www.visitfinland.com/article/finland-rising-in-kvarken-archipelago/). The day was not hot, barely warm, but this protected little haven had the sun warming up the sand and the water inviting us to sunbathe and swim. The bamboo mats for the beach served as yoga mats once me are Sonia did our practice before going to the water.
Bye Bye Finland – see you next summer!