Blackness… and light…

These are the darkest weeks in Finland just now – or at least in Southern Finland. There is very little sun, no snow, lots of clouds, and the temperature outside is around zero. 

The night starts at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and now at 10:53 in the morning the sun appears to try to shine over the horizon, but in a couple of hours it will start to fail again.

The nights are so dark and long here that the light from a single star or a sliver of moonshine is a major event.

We live on an isolated island to avoid the dreaded Virus. There are no cars or shops here and there are a few visiting neighbours. Food and other supplies are a weekly boat and car journey of 45 minutes. Exercise is cutting wood and walks in the surrounding forest with LED-headlamps strapped to our heads. The other day we saw two green eyes reflected in the forest from Mr. Deer… spooky and another major event.

It rained one day – it came so hard and fast, not down but horizontally. We watched it hit the windows as if it was trying to attack us. We prayed that the powerful wind would not crash a tree on to the power lines since we depend on electricity to keep us warm and comfortable. TV, heating, internet, oven, fridge and the freezer all need it… Only the sauna is heated with wood. We do that at 7 o’clock in the evening before the news to warm ourselves up in the flicker of the flames with pine logs crackling. 

When the wind blows from the Baltic sea the tall birch and pine trees scream and sway like drunks. Their thick solid 50 meter trunks move backwards and forwards like matchsticks when the storm rages on for hours… You learn to appreciate the power of nature when the sea level rises a meter when the wind pushes the water even higher, and big rocks move when the sand and grit is tossed away by waves.

Now it is Saturday morning and it is all calm and cold outside. It is time for a walk on the icey rocks and along the first path, strewed with the nights broken branches. An eagle is swooping above us and ducks and swans are googling up sea weed from the sea Botton in the shallows bays below our window. Thirty to fifty black cormorants have formed a huge V in the sky and are flying high away to the next island. Tiny tweeting birds, (not Trumps) are flitting from tree to tree invisible but noisy.

The sea is empty as far as the eye can see – this is normal at this time of the year, although there was one boat 30 minutes ago that scurried along between the islands on some errand. Our lone neighbour, a 72-year old fisherman, has popped out to inspect one of his 10 nets. He has a small row boat with an outboard motor at the back and a small dachshund peering over the front of the boat – he does this every morning and every evening 7 days a week…

We have been here on and off since Easter, and we will stay until the ice has arrived to close off the sea… or not, last year we just had a few days of thin ice, not like a decade ago when it was one meter thick…

But this is not at all so perfectly isolated – we still have plenty of work to do, write and talk about with customers and colleagues. Teams, Meet and Zoom keep us connected to the rest of the world that may not be enjoying these creature comforts.

Photos: Nicholas Anderson & Kimmo Niemi

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