The yellow cottage sits on the top of a hill looking to the lake. Smaller red buildings scattered across the site are the outhouse, sauna and wood shed. A narrow path runs from the cottage to the sauna and to the beach. Trees hang their branches lazily and moss lolls on the roof of the cottage.
The summer is officially gone. At least in Finland; September in Finnish is “autumn month”. People have returned to work and got back to their everyday lives. When you ask a Finn how did he/she spend his/hers summer holidays you might get an answer:
“At the summer cottage. You know, just relaxing”. Statistics Finland counted 501 600 summer cottages in Finland in the year 2015. There are a little less than 5.5 million people in the whole country. Seems like we can talk about a tradition here.
Driving up to Jyväskylä, where my summer cottage is, can take up to 5 hours. Got to stop for a lunch, maybe for a coffee also and to buy groceries. List of the things we need to buy is always long: Food for two dinners, three breakfasts and two lunches. Some beer for the sauna. Batteries for torches… And Remember to buy enough water! There is no running water in the cottage. No electricity either. Gas stove and gas fridge are luxuries. The toilet is a practical simple outhouse.
The cottage has to be heated up with the power of a single fireplace. While you are lighting the fire inside you should start heating the sauna as well because this proper big wood heated sauna takes three hours to get ready. The wood has to be carried there from the shed and the water for washing up is reeled up from the lake. When the darkness enters to the small rooms, candles and lanterns provide some light. If you are still in the sauna, be careful not to burn yourself on the stove. And don’t trip over when you are going skinny dipping. At the cottage, there are no televisions and no need to bring a laptop in. You can read only until you eyes fail you and the darkness invites you to the bed.
Does it sound relaxing?
It is. Calm and quiet. Only firewood cracking in the fireplace. Trees, Lake, rain and sunshine. Few good books and something to eat. If you want, you can go to the forest and pick blueberries and lingonberries for the morning porridge. Or maybe start the day by rowing around the lake.
Finns don’t have to travel to south in the summer. It is the autumn when we want to escape the darkness and fly to Spain.