Suomi love.

The consensus here is that Finland isn’t the most exciting place in the world. Which isn’t to deny that there might be much more exciting parts of Finland than Muonio, being in the middle of nowhere as we are, or that we aren’t actually excited to be here. We are!

But, well, things can be a little drab (just check the lighting in the photo above).

Nevertheless, there are things I love in Finland. First of all, the skiing. We were on great snow at the end of October, how cool is that?

Here’s a list of seven other things I love.

1) Sparks. Referred to in English as kicksleds, these things are sweet. They are the little red wagons of Scandinavia, only better. Every day we see old people kicking their sparks home from the grocery store, laden down with the night’s dinner ingredients. We also saw some very cool camoflage-bedecked high school students sparking home from school, which was awesome.

Photo: Nordqvist.fi

2) Nordqvist Tea. Our first black tea selection at the grocery store was “The Emperor’s Bride”, which despite its funny name turned out to be excellent. Excitedly, we finished the box so we could try more tea. Other varieties have names such as Faithful Friend, Tiger’s Daydream, Carribean Sun, and non-sequiturs like The Wisdom of Stay and Cheery Rainy Day. Carribean Sun is my current favorite; on the Nordqvist website, its picture is captioned with “Memories are like sand in swimwear.” Very profound.

3) Lingonberry Jam. On our first grocery outing, we bought a tub of Dronningham lingonberry jam, and it’s been one of the best things to happen to us so far. It goes on toast, in oatmeal, and even into the homemade applesauce I cooked to disguise some rather rubbery pork. You can find lingonberry products in the United States, but they are expensive. Here, they are commonplace, and that is a very good thing.

4) Sunsets (and sunrises). I think I mentioned this before, but because the sun hangs so low in the sky all the time, sunsets and sunrises last forever. They are beautiful. In fact, unless it is cloudy, the light is generally beautiful here. So maybe I should change this one to “The Light.”

5) Reindeer. On the drive to Olos, the ski area, we have seen reindeer crossing the road several times. Reindeer are pretty cool. They come in different colors! And the best thing about this was that the first time we spotted the reindeer, Hannah became completely frantic trying to catch a glimpse of them from her less-than-ideal seat in the van. Luckily, she managed to see them. If not, there would have been tears, I’m sure of it.

6) The Info Board at Olos. I didn’t realize I loved this until today, when it no longer displayed just the date and time, but some other messages as well. The information cycles through, with several messages in Finnish, several in English, and universally understood schedule for racing. My favorite message is posted below.

7) Life. Finally, as part of my new job for FasterSkier, I have had the opportunity to interview some really incredible athletes. The first of these interviews, with Swedish biathlete Bjorn Ferry, was posted today. Check it out. I have the best job in the world – or two of them, actually!

That’s all for now. I promise I’ll try to write more frequently.

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