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quarta-feira, 13 de maio de 2009

Spring and the colours of Finland

"It has been so cold here. Oh, my... I am already wearing some coats. You see, yesterday, in the late afternoon, it was about 18 degrees!!"

I heard this from my father last Sunday (Mothers' Day). I laughed. What else to do? If only he had seen how people here are happy in these early spring days. It hasn't reached the 20ies yet, but who cares? In Finland, even if it is still a bit chilly, just the idea of spring is enough to change the moods and the landscapes.

The darker and heavier clothes are slowly disappearing. They will be stored for the next frozen season along with the little rocks the cities spread around during winter so people won't go slipping and breaking bones on the icy streets. Luckily, the loud vehicles that clean the snow will hibernate and disappear for a while as well. On the other hand, it is time the colours make their way back, which leads me to make a (reasonable or weird, make your pick) proposal.

Finland should have two national flags for the two distinct countries it is. The current one is about the lakes and the snow, where the white prevails in the imaginary of those who have never been to the land of the thousands of drinkable-water lakes. People abroad (especially from warmer and remote places like, say, Rio) generally think of Finland as a branch of the North Pole where polar bears and Santa Claus live their regular lives in the cold. Many are unaware of the other Finland. The colourful and cheerful one. The one you would never guess from Kimi Räikkonen's unexistent smiles.

In this moment, still in the first weeks of spring, there are flowers everywhere. On the t-shirts and dresses, around the lakes or by the rivers, lining up the walking tracks., on the concrete walls in the city centres...yes, you read well. Because if there is a place flowers don't grow, no probs: Finns bring them ready-made from some greenhouse and place them everywhere. It is interesting to see people decorating the public spaces as if it was their own houses. In Rio (Brazil?), it is usually said that when something is public it means it has no owner, so you can mess up as much as you please. Here most of the people feel responsible and care for it as if it was their own yard. Totally understandable since in the spring and summer, people spend much more time outside than in.

The sun rises and shines at about 5 am now. It only sets after 10 pm. In the summer, the day will be much longer while the darkness takes (gives us) a break and saves its energy for working double shift in the winter. Since people are aware that sunny days are counted, every break in the day is an opportunity to go out. Families make picnics in the parks; workers make sure to walk a bit on their lunch/coffee breaks; rollerblades and bikes are dusted, oiled and put back to functioning; Restaurants and bars set their terraces for us to have a delicious cold beer enjoying the breeze under the sun...yes, Finland definitely needs another flag.

There should be a national symbol which represents not only snow and water, but the bright smiles of the kids running free of their waterproof winter gear; or the sunburned skin of those who are so eager to be in the sun that forget about the problematic relation between the UV rays and their extremely pale skin; or the grass that has grown extremely fast to hide the dog crap disclosed after the snow melted...anyway, I think I have made my point.

Now, let me put my Puma shoes on! Gotta run, guys! Literally. There is no better way of enjoying the colours of Finland than going out and being part of them.

:) Nähdään!