A brief description of a year in Oulu
The people of Oulu have plenty of light and darkness, but in varying quantities during the different seasons of the year. In March, there is as much light as there is darkness, but the light is already beginning to take over.
The arrival of geese in April is a sign of spring's awakening. Birdwatchers, binoculars in hand, flock to the shores and fields. Many city inhabitants spend their weekends repairing their summer cottages in the surrounding countryside or right in the heart of the city, in the allotment areas.
The boat harbour smells of paint and tar as boats are readied for the short but lively summer. A Finnish proverb suggests that when the lark arrives in Finland from the shores of the Mediterranean, summer is only a month away. Finally, when the swallows arrive in Oulu, summer begins.
Schools close their doors at the end of May and the summer holiday period starts, during which it is said that Finland is 'closed'. The people of Oulu, who have gone through the winter heavily dressed, unwind, and light, colourful summer clothes emerge and illuminate the city streets. At night, it simply doesn't get dark; what's more, at midsummer the sun barely grazes the horizon.
Rotuaari, the pedestrian street in the centre of the city, is full of summer events and city folk, as well as people from other places, visit the open market at the harbour. As summer arrives, the face of Oulu assumes a fresh, green expression: the leaves on the trees are out and the grass starts to grow.
In July nature sets a dazzling scene for the enthusiasts who go in search of the golden cloudberries in marshes. These sought-after berries are then stored in order to allow the memories of summer and sunshine to be rekindled again and again throughout the dark, cold winter.
Around the middle of August, the people of Oulu return home and the schools reopen. The days start getting shorter and people are already longing for the bright summer nights. Street lamps are lit in the evenings. Vegetable and berry crops are gathered, and people venture into the nearby woodland to pick mushrooms and wild berries.
As autumn advances and the starlings head south, the northern nature bursts into its beautiful fall colours. At the end of September, darkness once again gradually starts to overpower light. At the beginning of the month, boats are lifted onto the shore. Only the fishermen, who catch salmon and whitefish in the centre of the city, still keep their boats in the water. Soon the shores will freeze and darkness will swallow the light until the first snow arrives to brighten the land and to mark the beginning of winter.
The dark period lasts until Christmas, but, as the new year begins, people begin to notice the light increasing once again. After the icy-cold, freezing days of January and February pass, the people of Oulu head for the ski tracks, skating rinks or the sea ice to skate or do some ice fishing.