I stroll down a muddy path to our summer cottage. The air is inhumanely humid, there are wasps, bees and other flying nuisance buzzing in my ears. The sun can’t be seen from behind the thick layer of clouds that have been pouring rain on us for the last couple of weeks. There was a brief brake in the constant stream of water and we decided to get our stuff to the shelter we will be calling home for the next 6 weeks.

It has been a tiring year in the city. Timetables, schedules, snappy conversations and annoying colleagues. Nobody really likes it there, but it is so easy to live in an apartment, when the biggest grocery store in the country just happens to be just 10 minutes away. But when you get into absolute silence of nature, you start to see and hear where you have been spending your last 11 months. The first days your ears buzz from the unnatural silence you haven’t adjusted to.

Looking out of the window, I can see a lake just 20 meters from us. It is nothing pretty and there is definitely nothing beach-like about it. The banks are covered in grass, nettles, flowers and of course, mud. Nobody is crazy enough to push their luck and get bitten by a snake when making a run for the water. The nearest hospital is at least an hours drive away. A short, moldy plank is our only safe way to the murky waters beyond.

After being away for the whole year, the brute-of-a-building with four walls, a door, a couple of windows and, naturally a sauna, is full of dust and seems to be, if possible, even more tropical than the air outside. The most modern thing in the house is the travel-radio we brought with us. Some of us get ourselves in to unpacking, some start to clean what possible and some start to work with the sauna.

It is outside, a typical wooden building without any windows, except for the shutter, that is used to get rid of the heat in case the house tries to catch fire. As there is no running water, no bathrooms, electricity or heating the sauna itself is heated with burning wood. But first you would have to get a fire going, and that is hard. With the fire box, logs and paper all dripping water, getting a good fire going is a challenge. The trick is to keep calm and keep trying. When this was finally achieved, we all, men and women, all naked, packed ourselves into the small room heated up to 100 degrees Celsius and started to talk business.

When you start to feel dizzy, it is time for you to get out and jump from the moldy, rotten plank into the cold, dark water. And when you got cold, you back to the sauna. Into the water, into the sauna, into the water, into the sauna. Later, everybody having enough energy to barely move, we sat around a fire, ate grilled sausages and listened to the Finnish national radio. It was always the same lady, the same songs and the same program. We had done this for years and we would do this for years to come. Why? Nobody knows.

But we all loved every second of it.