The third national Finnish nature days theme is "Get wild about spring" (loosely translated) which has a special meaning this past week. It actually snowed heavily in Northern Finland :) Large snowflakes fell and the ground was again white within moments. The evergreens on our yard looked as heavy with snow as they did on Christmas. Our hometown, Oulu, has the beginning of spring delayed at least by 3 weeks. Now that the snow has melted, there is no green grass or even buds on the trees.
I had a crazy vision the beginning of last week. I wanted to show you true Finnish woods in the spring as a part of our national nature celebration. I wanted to highlight the growth cycle of berries among other things and even got my rain boots out but the weather had other plans for me.
The weather has been crazy right now going from a beautiful sunny day to snow, even within the same day! A Finnish meteorologist even got famous last week internationally because he couldn't hold his laughter in while talking about the snow in May. Check it out here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NknckHrq8Y
It seems like the weather conditions get weirder each year. Last year this time, we had 75 degree Fahrenheit weather and summer was right around the corner. We haven't had a May this cold in 100 years. We are totally at nature's mercy and as it seems, it's our own fault.
By the way, did you know that Finland is celebrating its 100 year independence and in honor of that, there's a campaign to put 1,000,000 new bird houses in the woods around the country. Yes, that's 1 million. A lot of people doing volunteer work to make it happen for the purest nature in the world!!! We want to make sure that birds have enough places to nest and that our woods keep having the beautiful relaxing songs of our birds. The bird houses are being registered in each county creating a mapping for the future. As a by-products, we'll be able to measure and proof the number of nature lovers in Finland.
It's amazing to me how much my stress level decreases even after just a short walk in the woods. I went in the woods after a busy morning and it felt that stress was overtaking my day and my blood pressure was rising. After just a short walk, I noticed I wasn't even thinking about the things that were bothering me. Studies have shown that even a 5 minute walk/stay in the woods increases your overall well-being and prevents mental health issues. Asian tourist visit Finland exactly for those reasons, clean nature and quietness. Us Finns take it for granted but it truly is a luxury.
But, I needed to talk about berries! I first found some lingonberries.
Lingonberry truly is a super berry. Our sales of the amazing red berry have skyrocketed since the new year. Lingonberry has "tacky" leaves that stay on the plant year-round so it looks the same as before the snow fell. The arctic weather conditions over thousands of years has hardened the berry into a fighter. It hardly ever reacts to weather changes and produces a harvest despite the challenges. We have to wait until June-July to see it bloom though, and the berries don't show themselves and ripen until September on.
Bilberry is still hibernating - I didn't see any leaves yet. Where I live, about 150 miles South of the arctic circle, we usually start seeing leaves on the stocks by beginning of May and the flowers bloom end of May. I've collected bilberry branches at our summer cottage this time of year in the past for the beautiful flowers to bring some spring indoors. Bilberry flowers have always reminded me of our national flower, lily of the valley.
I wasn't able to find any chaga growths but weather conditions don't really affect them anyways. Just remember, whenever possible, visit nature. It calms you and the oxygen rich air helps your mental health. And the more you follow the #eatsupercolors mentality, the better your body feels. Make sure to enjoy something yellow, red, blue, green, purple and brown as part of your nutrition. And I'm not talking about the ridiculous unicorn drink craze :)