Greetings from Wintry Finland

Hello, my name is Kessa and I have been invited by Ms Purcell to share a bit about Finland in Winter. I am originally from Singapore (a tropical Southeast Asian country) and this is my second Finnish Winter (though I should add that I only stayed less than a month in my first visit last Winter).

Winter in Finland can be a magical experience. Although it is pretty far up north, it is not terribly cold. Temperatures are usually around -10 degrees Celsius though it goes below -20 on colder days and close to 0 on warmer days. The wind, however, can make it feel much colder than it actually is.

Due to its geographic location, Finland can be quite a dark country in Winter. On the shortest day of the year (that is Winter Solstice), there is 3-5 hours of daylight depending on how far north you go. People here get tired more easily during Winter. Foreigners usually have a bit more difficult time adjusting to the short days, which can mess up the body clock. Although electric lights are common, people generally prefer candlelight in Winter as the soft light makes a room look much warmer and cozier.

There is plenty of snow in the Finnish Winter, which is usually quite welcomed because it makes everything look brighter. 

  However, it is a double-edged sword. At the beginning of Winter, the snow usually melts in the daytime before being frozen into ice at night. Ice can be dangerous to walk, cycle or drive on. Vehicles have to change to winter tyres and switch to winter fuel (which is made of a slightly different composition than summer fuel, in order to run smoothly in the frigid temperatures). Accidents still happen from time to time.

On the other hand, the snow can be a lot of fun. Children enjoy making snowmen, snow-castles, snow-angels and go sledding. There are many snow-related sports such as cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, ski jumping and snowboarding as well.

Snow is a big part of a major event in Winter: Christmas. It does not feel like Christmas without snow in Finland! 

Most birds fly south in the Winter, but some birds, such as these bullfinches, stay.

 Bird feeds are commonly used in Winter. Sometimes the squirrels steal food from the bird feeds too. Although squirrels look small and adorable, they are quite wild and dangerous.

As previously mentioned, candlelight is popular in Winter. The one shown here is an Ice Lantern, which is a lantern made of ice. The method is simple, but the execution can be a little tricky. Usually, a bucket of water is left outside to freeze over 1 (or more) night(s). It has to be removed from the bucket before the water is entirely frozen. A hole is made into the center of the ice where the water is still in liquid state. 

The water is discarded and a candle placed into the center. The ice at the side remains frozen and keeps the wind off the candle.

The days had been steadily getting longer and brighter here. Soon it will be Spring, which is beginning to sound very inviting! I hope you enjoyed the pictures and bits of information. Have a great week ahead!



Sparrows Roost at the Dart Station

Where do sparrows sleep at night? Most people think that they sleep in nests. But in fact, they usually roost together in a hedge. They do this for warmth and also to watch out for predators. One hundred eyes are better than two.

Picture by Ryan B

In Kilbarrack, the sparrows all roost together in the hedge at the local Dart station. They usually start arriving about an hour before nightfall. While their loud repetitive noise can be heard by the passengers waiting on the platform the sparrows themselves are almost invisible. Their dull plumage helps to make them invisible. The males have a black bib under their throat. In the winter you cannot see the bib as much. Sparrows eat seed and berries but the nestlings are fed insects.

Short video of the sparrows settling in for the night.


Surrealist Art Inspired by Joan Miró

The work of the Spanish surrealist painter provided the inspiration for some amazing pictures.Some of my students have incredible imagination. My favourite one shows a crazy hippo like creature sneaking up on a lion.


Our Garden

I made a flip book to tell you about some of our garden activities since September.