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What’s the Opposite of Hell Freezing Over?

Nope, I’m not going to talk about who’s in Helsinki today. That’s one of two things I moved to Finland to get away from. The other was the heat. It’s currently 30° Celsius here in Central Finland. That’s 86° Fahrenheit, for the Americans in the audience. They’re predicting that it could hit 32° tomorrow, and that this heat will last the rest of the week. We may get some rain on Saturday, but I fear that’s just going to add to the humidity, which is already over 50%. What’s the opposite of Hell freezing over? A Nordic heat wave.

Yes, July is the warmest month here. Sometimes it’s the only warm month. That’s why entire businesses shut down. Everyone goes on vacation. There’s no air conditioning — why bother, for a month? — so people head to cabins by the plentiful lakes, or deep into the woods. Enjoy the sun! Appreciate the green trees, and flowers, and butterflies and birds! It’s absolutely beautiful. Breathtaking. Katie compares the landscapes to the backgrounds in Miyazaki films, and she’s right. It’s gorgeous.

You may be wondering what the big deal with the heat is, then. After all, Katie and I lived in the American Southwest for decades. Temperatures in the high 30’s or even the low 40’s were the norm in the summertime. I never acclimated to it. Hated it. It’s also not the norm here. Not remotely. The hottest temperature recorded in Finland, ever, was 37.2° back in 2010, and that was along the Eastern coast. That’s 99° Fahrenheit, again for the American who don’t do the metric system. When we moved here in 2014, people were talking about the few days that July where it reached 25° in Jyväskylä, and how that was unprecedented. That summer it had also snowed a little during the first week of June, just for context. Snow in June is more normal than this kind of heat.

It’s the reverse of the Finnish winters. People ask how we get by when the temperatures are -20 to -30 and it’s snowing all of the time. They’re amazed that nothing ever shuts down because of the weather, that there’s no such thing as recess, and the school kids go outside for recess in the hardest part of winter. It’s because the infrastructure exists. The old saying here is that there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing. People know how to dress, they grow up learning how to walk on ice, and the plows and gravel trucks run all the time, on both the roads and the sidewalks.

This heat, though. The buildings are made to hold it in, to save energy in the winter. There is a finite amount of clothes you can take off, even in the privacy of your own home. I can’t even leave all of the windows open, because somehow my chain-smoking neighbor hasn’t contracted cancer and died yet, and his toxic effluvium blows in the windows. I need to listen for him going in and out to know when it’s safe to catch a breeze.

What’s the opposite of Hell freezing over?

Tomorrow we’re going to go shopping for a box fan, to see if we can get some air circulation inside the apartment. It seems like a ridiculous purchase, because then we’ll need to store it for the other 11 months. We haven’t needed such a thing in our previous 3 summers here. We’re taking several showers a day, and I’ve taken to soaking my feet in cold water (away from my desk, and the plethora of electrical cords and outlets beneath it, of course).

Before we know it, though, the days will grow short and we’ll be back in the Long Dark again. Honestly, though? This kind of summer has me looking forward to the coziness of Finnish winter.


Published in Dumb Blogging


  1. You can use the fan to dry floors, circulate heat, and if you get a second and a couple other things, as a food dryer. Alton Brown told me so! It’s the long dark that scares me. I have a hard enough time just working overnights here. The idea of months of darkness scares me.

  2. The darkness is, in fact, far harder to deal with than the cold.

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