In my mind Finland is a summery green country and during the wintertime busking and shining in a golden spring sunshine but during a couple of the last visits after living abroad for 15 years I have started to see the hint of greyness. Naturally, during our wintry visit a sleety, rainy afternoon is nothing but grey, no matter if there is snow covering the ground. However, I noticed this greyness coming through on a summer visit recently. Yes, all birches are in lovely leaves and the grass is green but everything seems to have a tint of grey merging with the blueness of the sky, brownness of the agricultural soil and greenness of the forests. But the forests are dominated by dark shades of fir and pine trees and the scarred outcrops of bedrock along the motorway are grey of granites and gneisses. The moraines are light-coloured and stony and many of the tree trunks have the grey shade of aspen or willow bark. Not to mention the greyness of the road network and motorways.
Living in England allows one to enjoy green lawns year around – unless the summer is especially hot, which does not happen too often. The brown and green dominate even through the winter and the bright colours of some bedrock areas, e.g. the reds in Dorset or whites in Kent, shine through in places. It is true that when it is overcast and rainy, and that is quite often during the autumn and winter – and spring and summer – everything is damp and dull. However, on a sunny winter day as today when I am writing this everything is green or greener.
The greenness of England does not outshine the brightness of the Mediterranean. If you arrive to a Mediterranean country on a sunny day even in January you see brilliance in the air. The overall tones of the landscape tend to be orange or brown most of the year albeit a relatively short burst of springiness in April or May but the colours of terracotta just add to the feeling of warmness and shininess lacking from the northern latitudes.
It feels cheap to refer to the general tones of the environment when discussing the certain aspects of mentalities in different parts of Europe. Nevertheless, on a beautiful June day a riverside in Turku feels cosmopolitan and the summer clothes worn are colourful whereas the greys and blacks dot the winter palette. A ray of sunshine in the spring allows the English to take those minute tops or shorts out of the closet and turn their necks red. Brightness and sunshine makes people more expressive if not happier.
Reminder: Beginners guide to archaeology and heritage will start on February 20, 2012, at 12:30pm (six two-hour sessions) with the 101 Hinckley Road branch in Leicester. Fee: £40.20 (FREE for unemployed and people on benefits; T&C apply). Click here for more information and enrolment.