Finland, the land of supposedly terrible winter, and of never-ceasing gloom.
Well, the gloom never ceases, but the winter just isn’t here. With this global warming and all, the temperature is currently floating on the warmer side of zero degrees Celsius (+32 F), and rather than snow there are just patches of sludge and sheets of tricksy and thinning ice.
Where’s the winter?
Could someone take a dozen thermonuclear devices and detonate them high up in the atmosphere, please? (I do realize this is a rather unusual request.) Even nuclear winter starts to seem pleasant compared to this season of sleet.
It’s the middle of January. There should be drifts of snow — white dunes of cold — biting gales of ice-needles — icicles hanging from the eaves of every sauna and house — patches of yellow snow along dog-outing routes — people tottering around red-faced and wrapped in layers of wool and crinkly heat-preservers, breath condensing in the clean, clear air, mumbling incoherent expressions of awe and wonder through numb lips and shrunken tongues — there should be winter.
But no, here in Finland there is no winter. There was a short cold spell in the beginning of November, but all of that snow melted away. There was another around the turn of the year, but it too is fast disappearing.
Where’s the cold? Where the austere and deadly beauty of snow and ice? Where the clearness of icy air, the fury of a blinding snowstorm? Where the breath frozen on one’s beard, the hand stilled in one’s glove (and turning black, much to the amusement of one’s unsympathetic neighbor)?
I am starting to wonder whether (a) there are any universities in Greenland and (b) if so, whether they need a lazy graduate student of mathematics there.
Or maybe Antarctica instead — I’d much prefer penguins over polar bears. (I’ve calculated that there needs to be only 2 bears to bring me down, but to do the same a whopping 69 penguins are necessary.) Ah, if the two tiny problems of food and warmth were solved (and eventually they will be), Antarctica would be a nice place for an International Institute of Mathematics Done Without Irritating Outside Interference.
And speaking of Outside Interference, I am reminded that Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness is set on Antarctica, too. Ah, if only… I would prefer frozen Elder Things and malevolent giant penguins so much over this depressing January rain. Even mind-numbing terror is a coldness better than this dull and wet gloom.
You can trust a Finn to miss even frostbite when it’s not around. Ah well, a wistful tekeli-li! to you all, and I hope the weather’s to your liking over there, wherever that might be.