When Finland is spoiled with beautiful, hot summer days you can guarantee that most Finns do what they love best. They head to the forest and their summer cottages. According to Statistics Finland, there are close to half a million official summer cottages of about 40 square metres or less. Once you include larger leisure homes the figure likely doubles or triples. However, enjoying “mökkielämä” or cottage life comes with certain risks, (or advantages depending upon your point of view). One of these is that it turns everyone into a hippie. Here’s how.
1. You don’t bother changing clothes anymore
When you pack your bags in your city apartment, you count how many days you are going to stay and how many clothes you need for yourself and for your child. You do this all for nothing. You’ll wear exactly the same clothes throughout your stay at the summer cottage. If the temperature is above +15, your child will wear no clothes whatsoever. Thanks to your increasingly stinky cottage attire mosquitos don’t bite you anymore. However, how your kids survive running around naked in clouds of mosquito is a Finnish miracle.
2. You don’t shower.
You swim in the lake and go to the sauna. Many summer cottages don’t even have a shower. Wearing a swim suit is not necessary either when you are with your own family. Swimming and going to sauna as a family activity is quite intense. At the end of the holiday, you’ll notice how you only washed your hair with shampoo on the day you arrived and the day you left. Things like make-up, hairdryer, deodorant, perfume and mirror seem like magical items from another world.
3. Instead of going to the toilet, you go to the bushes
Kids love it. When you return to the city, you basically need to potty train them again and teach what a toilet is. Grown-ups burst into tears after seeing a porcelain toilet after several weeks’ break. You truly understand and appreciate what this piece of sanitary furniture means to you and a civilised society in general. Anyone who is not familiar with the concept of Finnish summer cottage toilet should google “ulkovessa” or “ulkohuussi” for a general idea and you will understand why we prefer the bushes always when possible.
4. You get loved up with nature
What I mean by a hippie here is not exactly what they did in 1960’s San Francisco. Access to free sex and drugs in the Finnish countryside and summer cottages is usually quite limited. Of course it depends on your family and friends a little, but anyway, this is not the general line. What I mean by hippie life is that you really turn towards nature with all your senses. You gaze to the lake with your eyes, your feet touch the ground, there is nakedness that is completely nonsexual (Sorry if I’m shattering dreams of long, light, sex-filled nights in the Nordic nature) and your hands touch the water when you swim, wood when you warm up the sauna and berries, mushrooms and fishes when you look for and prepare food.
5. You go barefoot everywhere
Whether your summerhouse has a big grass yard or a pine tree forest around it, you will go barefoot most of the time. You are regularly reminded by pine cones, sharp stones, sticks and other sharp objects that your soles are out of their comfort zone, but still, the pleasure of not wearing shoes overcomes the pain. Very quickly you forget where your shoes are. It’s only when you sit in the car to leave and feel how strange the pedals are on your feet, that you remember to return to the summer cottage to look for your long lost footwear.
Unfortunately, all fun things and even the longest summer holidays come to an end. Forest hippies need to return to their real lives as CEOs, bankers, nurses and teachers. The transition is often extremely painful because you don’t know how to live in a city anymore. Not only do you have to live your everyday life again, but suffer the inevitable identity crisis when emails and excel spreadsheets remind you are not a flower child anymore. But don’t despair. There’s always hope and it’s called next summer!