It was a gorgeously sunny day. The sky was bright blue and the air was warm and energizing. The weather alone made me feel happy and alive. We went to Mustasaari Island with close friends who live in our building. We watched our kids playing happily together on the beach and venturing breathlessly into the icy cold water. Afterwards, we grilled sausages and ate them with mustard and ketchup, washed down with the faintly-root-beer-ish Pommac. We turned our faces skywards and soaked up the sun and warmth with gratitude. We eventually dragged ourselves away in the early evening and crowded onto the home-bound ferry, the kids leaning precariously over the sides and shrieking with laughter that filled our parental hearts with joy.
We reconvened in our shared back garden for more food and drinks, to find that our neighbours had magically transformed our courtyard into a fantastic party zone – white-tablecloth-covered table with rows of fancy hors d’oeuvres and glasses of champagne, a grill sizzling deliciously with home-made hamburgers, and a radio playing hilariously melancholy Finnish midsummer classics interspersed with 80s hits. The kids played happily with bikes and hula hoops, and challenged each other at salibandy. We ate greedily, but somehow still made room for dessert - summery rhubarb crumble and sweet, fresh strawberries. With a few drinks inside us we sang out loud to old songs and laughed. We laughed so much, and felt all our troubles float away into the summer night.
At one point, suddenly we heard a solo trumpet ringing out brilliantly through the still evening air. We looked at each other in disbelief (were we suddenly in a movie?) We finally spotted him - a young boy, on a nearby balcony. He was playing Suvivirsi (“Jo joutui armas aika…”) the traditional graduation hymn. It was pure and true and it echoed through us poignantly. The Finns especially were very moved - this song carries strong emotions for anyone who has sung it at a school graduation. When our lone trumpeter finished we applauded him loudly, and he turned, in surprise, to look at us. He hadn’t even realised we were there. He was playing only for himself, but he took our breath away.
Long past her bedtime, my smaller daughter finally announced, “I think I have to go home straight away to sleep.” And so, reluctantly, I dragged myself away and put my little ones to bed, reflecting, with a big smile, on a day and night I’ll remember always. I felt thankful for so much – for sunshine, for my lovely family, for great friends and neighbours, for my Finnish home, and for the privilege of being alive.