As the snow slowly begins to recede, the harshness of Helsinki’s winter months begin to show in the landscape. The grass lies brown and flat, forced down and kept under cover of darkness for six months; cars are still adorned with their winter tyres and are masked by a thick layer of dirt from the salt and grit in the roads; and outside my window, the lawn is littered with the previous tenant’s cigarette butts that gradually reveal their number as the snow slowly melts away. I am assured that spring is here. The Helmi Grill has decorated its tables with withering arrangements of daffodils. This is not the spring I remember from primary school. Where are the frolicking rabbits and flowerbeds bursting with life? We are still locked in the white winter that I yearned for as a child, but that never materialised until global warming supposedly made us all cold.
My friends just think I’m whinging. If it’s not the cold, it’s the prices; if it’s not the prices, it’s the fact that we still have no internet; if it’s not the internet, it’s the drunken people yelling at me for no reason on the metro. This list continues and they mock me as regularly as I complain. They are stern in the defence of their country and I placate them by learning the days of the week in Finnish. Their laughter at my inability to cope with the complex range of vowel sounds subsides and is replaced with rage. This language is just too hard. I want to learn Spanish.
I’ve met all of my new teammates now. We’re stacked to the rafters with talented players and every one of them is committed to the cause. Initial concerns in the ranks have been dealt with by the coaches and everyone is moving forward at a pace. We continue to practice indoors while the snow melts. Damn this frozen menace. Next week we have a training camp and a second scrimmage against TAFT Vantaa, one of our opponents in the Maple League this year. I’m hungry to get involved. I need to blow off a few more cobwebs and get some real contact work done. There is no room for error in the first game of the season.
I’m trying to get my weight up. There is not much to do in this weather except sit indoors and eat or go to the gym. But the latter is not an option over the Easter weekend, so I’ve stocked up on meat like a carnivorous squirrel and I’m going to sit here eating for a few days. There is a sauna party with the team tomorrow. I’ll attend, but I’m not sure I can afford to shed the pounds in the heat. I’ve also been invited to a party on Monday, but it is more of a barbecue affair. I’m not sure how you barbecue in the snow, but it’s more the kind of thing I’m after. They’ve told me that despite the secular nature of the affair, it’s called a ‘resurrection party’. I have morbid visions of zombie chickens.
It’s started snowing again. Next practice is on Tuesday. Tiistai if you’re feeling clever.