Photo: Autumn road in Koli, by Pekka Sorjonen
It rains. It rains and it rains and it rains. And still it rains. It's autumn and it just keeps raining day in, day out.
Finland is located in a planetary spot where the warm masses of air that flow from the south collide with the cold air masses that blow from the north. This translates into very thick masses of clouds above the ground and lots of rain. It is a fact that does not please everybody, nevertheless there is nothing to do about it, but accept it or move to some sunnier place.
Many Finns complain at the beginning of autumn, and their complaints grow stronger and sorrier as Christmas nears. We call this period of the year the time of darkness. The days grow shorter at a fast pace, but there is no snow on the ground to reflect the little light the sky stingily gives us. November is the worst down in the south; up north they have snow by November. But the south is sad: no colourful leaves on the trees, no pure white snow on the ground, only blackness, greyness and bare skeletons of trees. And of course, the rain.
They estimated in 2011 that 250.000 Finns suffered from depression. It has been proven that the lack of sunlight affects the chemistry of the brain in such a way that it makes a person vulnerable to depression. It is not uncommon for Finns to have at home or at work a very strong lamp that provides some sort of light therapy. This knowledge might explain partly the popularity of trips down to southern Europe and Asia in wintertime amongst the Finns.
But as they say, if you can't beat them, join them.
There is nothing we can do about the weather, but there are small, yet meaningful things to be done in order to not give in to depression. One of them is jogging in autumn. All you need is good technical clothing and some sort of a will to step outside into the damp and run into the woods.
The woods are amazingly beautiful in autumn. So quiet, so gentle. Decay and approaching death have taken hold of the forest, but it is not scary or ugly, on the contrary, it's hypnotically beautiful, it lets the spirit lay at rest. It is the beginning of renovation, of dying in order to be born again, new, clean, full of fresh energy.
Rain is never as harsh in the woods as elsewhere. Rain whispers sweet secret songs in the needles of fir and pine trees. Orange, brown, red, yellow and black rotting leaves spot the ground. There is a charming sacredness to the landscape that makes the jogger happy. Depression? Who said depression? Darkness becomes a friend in the forest. It huddles the jogger in its ancient protecting embrace.
And when you get back home, you realize you feel light, and life seems beautiful. There is no rush to see the days grow long and light again, everything comes in its perfect own time.