In Poland, the most popular subject of small talk is the weather. “Oh, look at the sunshine! Isn’t this a beautiful day?” Or more often you can here people complaining: “Oh, Lord, I hate such autumn drizzle!” This is simply just the safest subject, a kind, non-pushy way to start talking to a stranger, colleague or a distant relative.
Dear readers of Finland Today, we don’t know each other very well, so what a better way to start? The weather was, after all, the first item on the long, long list of things that surprised me in your country.
But firstly, let’s go back to the story of my band in my first column. The Finnish Fever Freaks just decided to head to Finland. They packed everything that seemed to be important (suitcase 90% full of various jumpers) and with heavy, comfortable shoes on their legs they started their journey. A journey to remember.
I don’t use the word “journey” by accident. It wasn’t as easy as it first appeared to be. First – long night of traveling to Gdansk, from which we had a flight to Turku in the morning. Then a two-hour flight and finally another two-hour travel to Helsinki . . . . We arrived in your capital city in the late evening, jet-lagged after a night in a bus, feeling like squashed frogs.
[alert type=white ]When I first listened to “Frozen Heart” from Disney’s Frozen, I immediately thought that it should be sung by Finnish men.[/alert]
This is a good moment for a few words of explanation. Well, to be honest, as you all know Poland isn’t an exotic country. We are only one Baltic Sea away from you. We have snowy winters, Santa Claus (but we strongly believe he lives in Rovaniemi), real Frost*, reindeer and all that stuff. -20ºC is absolutely possible in our country and we don’t panic, write down our last will and close schools predicting the apocalypse because of the first snow falls.
But – as well as cold winters – we also have hot summers. And the Polish summer during our trip to Finland was overwhelmingly hot and dry. 40ºC in the day was treated as absolutely normal, basic state, 30ºC in the evening we felt as a pleasant coolness. And in the middle of this dryness full of obligatory sunbathing until we were dark brown and swimming in lakes trying not to get a sunstroke – we decided to go North.
No surprise at all that we felt like we were swimming in the ocean of freezing cold when we arrived Helsinki at this 11 o’clock in the morning. We put on almost every item of clothing from our suitcases and started trekking, looking for our rented flat. I want you to imagine the shock on our faces when on this cold, Finnish night we saw natives walking the streets wearing T-shirts and shorts. And as for the icing (pun intended!) on the cake . . . some of the pedestrians strolled barefoot and didn’t even get goosebumps!
It’s absolutely wonderful how coldproof you, Finnish people, are. You live in a country of thousand lakes, with the best education in the world and Aurora Borealis. Other nations can only guess what’s on your mind, people unafraid of ice. It must be really difficult for a foreigner living in Finland to get used to it . . . those almost perpetual nights in winter, the crazy climate. Maybe that’s the reason why, when I first listened to “Frozen Heart” from Disney’s Frozen, I immediately thought that it should be sung by Finnish men.
And I wasn’t disappointed after hearing “Jäätynyt Sydän” (Frozen Heart) for the first time. The crispy sound of crushing ice, the whisper of frosty wind and deep manly voices. Aren’t they created to coexist? Oh, they do and maybe that’s why music is the first thing that potential “finnish-feverers” first fall in love with. That’s how it was in my case, as you know from the first column. In my next one, I’ll share with you why the best music in the world comes out from Finland. See you then.
*It is the reference to famous, best-selling Polish criminal writer, Remigiusz Mróz. His surname means “frost.”