Last blush of the arctic summer

These are pictures I took over the two weeks I spent in Finland late in July.  I spent a lot of time by the sea, and had planned on making this post about the arctic seascapes. But, as it sometimes happens, something changed when the pictures traveled from the camera to the computer. What a month ago looked beautiful and captured the feeling of the moment perfectly, now just looks like an ordinary picture of an ordinary rock.

Nothing here is special in photographic sense. These are snapshots of what might have been the last, golden summer I’ll ever spend at home, many so personal I couldn’t share them with anyone yet.

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IMGP3407Lupins in my parents’ garden.

IMGP3427The accidental raspberries.

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IMGP3562Once long ago, my father lived here. Now this big, beautiful house is empty and unused, and it makes me rather sad – such glorious building. (This and the rest of vertically oriented photos have been scaled to the column margins – click the photo for original resolution.)

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IMGP3806Nothing says end of summer like fireweed. The most common flower in Finland, it starts blossoming in the north when almost everything else has already turned to seed.

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IMGP3730I love wind turbines; they have been around for so long that they have become a natural part of the Finnish landscape.

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IMGP3765Sunset by the sea.

IMGP3834All summer, I tried to photograph a butterfly. This is the best I managed, I’m afraid.

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IMGP3875Fishing and hoping and thinking and praying.

IMGP3890To quote Andrew Motion, there is a severe absence of fish.

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IMGP3919This is the last photo I took in Finland, and it’s far from perfect, but the memory of that evening is much treasured. The bond I have with my hometown – a plain, unexciting industrial town in the north, not small but not a big city either – is probably more imaginary than it is real. I have been gone for a long time, and probably wouldn’t keep going back if it wasn’t for my family; I rarely miss this place when I’m gone.  My childhood was fairly urban. We lived near town centre when I was a kid, and my walk to school took me across heavily trafficked roads, through estates of 1950s apartment blocks and over a bridge perched above the churning waters passing through the hydroelectric power station. I always walked with a friend, and we would see the odd suicide candidate or a flasher, and still somehow lived to tell the tale – kids these days, they have no idea. I miss the water – the clean, shining brackish water of the Ostrobotnian gulf and the tender, warm waters of the lakes and ponds we used to swim in – and I miss the snow, the kind of snow what never falls here, damp and heavy when it first falls, crisp and sparkly after it has frozen. And the autumn! The glorious autumn!

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