Summer in Finland is a brief, perfect moment made of a soothing sun that shines well into the night, scudding white and purple clouds, and birches and evergreens tossing in a lilting breeze. From the moment the sun begins its ascent into the sky in May, Finns escape to their cottages, retreats handed down through generations.
During our several visits to Finland, many of them artist residencies, we often ecountered friends and acquaintances on a Friday afternoon outside the market, where, pausing to stock up on essentials, they murmured something about hurrying off to the mökki, rustic cottages outfitted with wood-burning saunas. In early spring we had sailed through the iced archipelago between Helsinki and Stockholm, admiring the red and brown wood cottages dotting the myriad islands. But even more lay just a few hours away to the north, in the wonders of the lake region in a country lousy with lakes — 187,000 to be exact.