July was a busy month for me, with a week-long work conference to kick the month off, then 3 separate friends visiting over the course of two weeks, before jumping on a plane for some more work travel. It was an exciting month, seeing people I hadn’t seen for months or even years, spending time in the south of Italy, being a tourist at home in Turin, trying to wrap my head around some new (to me) physics, lots of meals in restaurants and relatively few nights at home.
In contrast to all that, Finland has been trees and rocks and water and evening light. I’ve been here for two weeks now, for work, and every day I’ve had to remind myself that I’m not on holidays, and I really do need to go to the office. Partly it’s the feeling of quiet here that’s (paradoxically) distracting me — if you’re going to be productive, isn’t that synonymous with being busy?
I’m staying just outside of Helsinki proper, on the shores of an inlet surrounded by reeds. In the evenings I sometimes go for a walk on the gravel path through the birch trees, following the edge of the water. A couple of weeks ago on a grey Sunday afternoon, I followed the path all the way to the top of the inlet, where a herd of cows graze near the water. The trees muffled the sound of the nearby motorway and I felt like I’d left the city entirely.
Sometimes I walk in the other direction, down to the edge of the open sea, which is protected by islands and calm like a lake. There are always midges, and sometimes when the water is very still I can hear fishes jumping up to catch a midge that has ventured too close to the surface. I’ve never seen the fishes, only the ripples as they dive back down.
PS: If you think I have become a person at one with nature, I should also say I have spent many evenings using the fast internet in my accommodation to frantically skim-read blogs and news sites and videos. My latest game is “how cheap can I get a flight to Perth for Christmas, plus an interesting stopover on the way?” Question for readers — is it possible to have a nice time in Bali if you aren’t interested in drinking or surfing???