First posted May 29, 2008
I miss the white nights in Helsinki. Midsummer eve occurs in the midst of the daylight season. It’s light night and day, day and night. I feel a song coming on. That’s in keeping with the spirit of Midsummer eve. It’s a magical time of Finnish traditions, handicrafts, folk dancing and music, food, laughter and street parties at this celebration. Finally, it’s also warm out, sometimes reaching 70° F so that’s one more thing to celebrate.
Another part of the Helsinki summers is the ice cream. That happens to be part of the winters as well, but the least bit of warmth in the air and crowds of people are out strolling and eating ice cream. You can even eat garlic ice cream at the garlic restaurant. And like it sounds, everything is made with garlic. I think the only thing the Finns like better than ice cream are cell phones. We’ve managed to catch up with the cell phone craze over here, but in the early 90’s about two out of every three Finns had a cell phone to their ear. They were very adept at walking and talking without missing a beat. I personally can either concentrate on walking or talking on the phone, but not both. I like to stop and sit while talking. When I’m on the move, I’m too busy taking it all in.
In Helsinki there are plenty of places to stop and sit. There are little parks all over the place. A lot of them have lilacs. I adore lilacs. They have such a heavenly fragrance. That’s one thing I missed after moving south. Growing up in the Midwest we always had lilac bushes, but nothing like they grow in Helsinki. Those babies are literally trees. I used to pick off some of the flowers and hope I wouldn’t get arrested. It was just too tempting. I also liked to stop at a flower shop and buy bunches of lily of the valley; another flower that doesn’t like the south. While we were in Finland, my cabin always had lovely fresh flowers.
If you’ve ever been to Helsinki, you know about Stockmann’s. It is still my all time favorite department store. I love Macy’s and Saks, but they don’t hold a candle to Stockmann’s. The variety found there just makes your mouth water and your wallet cry. It has all the normal department store type stuff plus a delicatessen, pharmacy, espresso shop, travel bureau, framing service, sauna equipment, custom made shoes, fitness center, and much, much more. The only thing you can’t buy there is a washcloth. Washcloths are not standard items in many countries. I finally was able to locate a washcloth at The Body Shop. Helsinki was the place where I was introduced to The Body Shop and it’s delights.
Okay, the night here is black instead of white and my body says it’s time to crawl between the sheets. I could write for a long time about the pleasures of Helsinki, but I think I’ll just have to go to bed and dream about them. Remind me some time to tell you about my night time snorkeling.