A reminder of things that make a great summer

“My friend has an ingenious way of writing down the things they want to do during the summer before the start of the summer holiday,” writes Design Stories columnist Hanna-Katariina Mononen. A list like that may save your holiday when the summer sneaks up on you.

Marimekko's Mini vase
“In the summer, the various vases in the cabinet are really put to use when each walk or bike trip results in freshly picked flowers,” says Hanna-Katariina Mononen. The Mini vase is by Marimekko.

THE HOME EXTENDS TO OUTDOORS. The joint concert of a blackbird and a nightingale is competing with the soundscape of a football match. It’s summer, the time in nature when many months of waiting and silence seem to reach their peak. I may not be the only one who feels that every year, spring seems to turn into summer behind my back and I only realize the warmth of the weather when I see people splashing about in the water.

My friend has an ingenious way of writing down the things they want to do during the summer before the start of the summer holiday. A list like that can save the season for people like me, to whom summer always comes as a surprise. Summer comes so suddenly that you may be overcome by the fear of missing out, the fear that everything wonderful will be over before you have had a chance to join in. And what exactly are the nicest things to do? What have I enjoyed the most in past summers?

“The same applies to summer experiences as to so many other things: in the end, it’s often the small things that matter most.”

If I have learned anything from the summers of my lifetime so far, it’s that the same applies to summer experiences as to so many other things: in the end, it’s often the small things that matter most. The most memorable summer experiences are made of those beautiful moments during perfect, warm evenings, surprising encounters in the summer night, a new favorite ice cream flavor or even a rocky cleft for taking the most wonderful nap of the summer. For example, easily the most important and impressive memory from last summer is the moment when I got to see with my own eyes a massive boulder balancing on a smaller one in the middle of the forest.

My six-point summer list

1. Flea markets

It’s great to travel narrowing roads in the countryside and discover splendid new flea markets. The more remote and peculiar the place, the better. If the door is locked but you can call the number left on the door to get the owner to open it, even better too. My favorite finds include old glass objects by Iittala and Nuutajärvi, old ceramics by Arabia, and old wooden handicrafts. It’s also worth rummaging through the miscellaneous piles of items and checking the furthest-flung corners, since even though they may not look all that appealing at first they may be just the place hiding the most beautiful linen cloth, for instance.

2. Summer movies

You don’t always have to be an outdoor person to enjoy summer. On the contrary: sometimes the best summer moments take place in the company of classics. The watch list for every summer includes Jaws, any film from the 1980s starring Tom Cruise, Lethal Weapon and, of course, a selection of James Bond movies. The latter should be enjoyed with a recurring discussion on who’s the best Bond (for my money, Timothy Dalton).

3. Music

In my opinion, all you need for an enjoyable summer moment is good music and a glass of pét nat. Even though the summer soundscape is already music to the ears as such, Billie Holiday, Joe Pass or Neil Young with his album On the Beach set a suitable mood for sunsets and summer evenings.

4. Flowers

I think that those prone to forgetfulness should write even the most obvious things in their summer list. In the summer, the various vases in the cabinet are really put to use when each walk or bike trip results in freshly picked flowers. I know that in the November darkness, I will once again think on the times when decorating the table setting only took a quick trip outside.

5. Trips

No summer without a summer trip! The best travel plans are left flexible, so that serendipity and intuition can decide the stops. Some spots are, however, worth marking on the map in advance. In Finland, architecture lovers should head to the reopened Paimio Sanatorium. Other impressive sites include Laila Pullinen – Sculpture Park & Home Museum that is located in Vantaa, Finland, and open until the end of August.

6. Festive atmosphere

In all its fleetingness, summer is something exceptional that calls for celebration in its own right. In the summer, everyone should have the ingredients for whipping up crêpes, a pavlova or pre-dinner aperitifs with olives and potato chips at a moment’s notice. Whenever possible, the table should be set outdoors with a tablecloth and fresh flowers – and there’s always room for surprise guests!

Hanna-Katariina Mononen

The author, Hanna-Katariina Mononen, reflects on the issues of a beautiful and sustainable life in her monthly column for Design Stories. She thinks that just like in life, in the home, the most beautiful parts are unplanned – and often relatively ordinary as well.

Text and image: Hanna-Katariina Mononen

Previous story
Next story