This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Ice on the wings

deicingDe-icing aircrafts is the constant messer-up of winter flight schedules. You can do it like they do it on Heathrow: spend 10 minutes drenching each wing, minutely combing through every square centimeter of the wing with the flashlight, causing an average delay of 1 hour for a rush-hour departure. Or you can do it the Finnish style: zap-zap-final-finishing-look and done. All in a matter of 2 minutes. It saves drenching the airport in toxic liquids, and somehow, saving time and substance does not seem to cause any more accidents. Because ice on wings can be deadly.

(Helsinki, Finland; February 2018)

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Snow chaos? Never in Finland

airportwinterIn London, Heathrow airport closes after 5 centimeters of snowfall. If it can be expected, flights are “proactively canceled” even two days before, to ensure smooth running of most critical services. News broadcast snow warnings, and travelers are stuck on the airport for days.

In Helsinki it is business as usual after 20 centimeters of snow. Sure, it is a bumpy ride on the snow-packed, frozen taxiways. Sure, one has to jump into the freshly fallen snow and somehow drag one’s cabin bag behind, wheels locked and uncooperative. Sure, flights are a little delayed. But the eight or so huge brush-equipped snow plows zooming across the runway in formation at some 60 km/hour speed every once in a while is what makes most of the difference. Is it really not worthwile for Heathrow to invest in a little basic snow-how?

(Helsinki, Finland; February 2018)

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In June: nightless night

sunsetThis is what we in Finland call a “nightless night”. 10.45 in pm in mid-June, and getting lighter still, until the old pagan festival of midsummer in the third weekend of June which falls on or a few days from summer solstice. In Helsinki, the sun sets at 11 pm and rises again at 4 am. In the northern one-third of Finland it never sets until later in the summer.

This was then. Today the day is five and a half hours shorter than in June. And it will be much shorter still until the year is over. Time to begin consciously maintaining daily energy levels, so we do not burn out while it is dark.

(Helsinki, Finland; June 2017)

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balloon-1One sunny eve in May we all gathered on my home island. The task was to put together the largest hot air balloon in Finland. With a basket like a small bus. It lived in a van the size of a large bus. balloon-2There were four burners and, naturally, Tibetan prayer flags. Because the pilot had been ballooning around Annapurna some time ago. balloon-4First we blew the balloon full with cold air. Then we followed with hot air from the burners. balloon-7It really was an immense bubble of air, even only half-full. And somehow, somehow it rose upright slowly and controlledly, without flying off with us all hanging from the mooring ropes. It waited nicely until we were on board.balloon-6My home island looks so friendly from the air.
balloon-8The amusement park looks friendly, too. Like it was built for dolls. balloon-3The wind took us East of Helsinki-Malmi recreational airport. But somehow, like magic, we found a wind layer blowing West, and in all that air going Northeast we drifted West, into the airport, and touched down spot on the runway. How it happened is beyond me.

In a traditional champagne ceremony all the adult ladies were given the honorary title duchess or empress. I was given the title princess, along with all the little girls. I quite liked it. And I liked the fact that most of the champagne ended up in our glasses instead of being poured over our heads.balloon-5(Helsinki, Finland; May 2017)

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abovespain-3When I think of Spain I never think of mountains. But they are right there, if I would wander deep enough inland. abovespain-2When the rest of the world thinks of beaches and sangria and sun-kissed villages, there is surprisingly much snow up North. Now I understand why the Great Pyrenees dog breed is so white and fluffy. abovespain-1(Above the Pyrenees, Spain; March 2017)

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Snowy Polish patchwork blanket

snowyfieldsLast night I came home from Zurich. This morning I am going back down again, to Vienna. One could ask why I did not just stay in Zurich and fly directly to Vienna. Because: 1) I would not have been able to accompany my mother (in business class). And 2) I would not have been able to see this artsy snowy patchwork blanket that is Poland on a February morning.

(Yes, still posting with a terrible backlog. But keep reading, you will see wonderful photos of the most girly pretty city in Europe).

(Above Poland; February 2017)