Living in polar darkness is a charming challenge. My home, a tiny house on wheels and eight sled dogs are located about 150 kilometres above the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. In a region which offers me an exotic life in Arctic darkness. To handle my daily life in polar night is both demanding and lovely
The villages light up
As soon as it gets dark over the vastness of Swedish Lapland, the inhabitants light up their houses and gardens in the most creative way. Trees lit up in white, shimmering red terraces and gleaming yellow windows mark the end of sunshine – and the beginning of life in polar night.
The last sun rays at the 67th degree of latitude
At the end of November, the sun throws its last rays of the year over our snowy expanses. For about six weeks it will be twilight or night all day long. With clouds and snowfall, the only thing that helps is artificial light sources to avoid losing way in the crunching snow.
North of the Arctic Circle, the sun is above the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours minimum once per year. This happens at the summer and winter solstices, respectively. But even during winter, it isn’t dark for 24 hours; there are some hours of twilight in our life in arctic darkness.
Living in polar darkness with stars and full moon
And on clear winter days, with high-pressure weather conditions under a full moon and a starry sky, the lights of the villagers in Skaulo and Puoltikasvaara are only a pale reflection of the light that nature can offer. Then nature is absolutely at its most beautiful and living in polar darkness like in a fairy tale. The light of the stars and the full moon reflects in the snowy winter landscape and brightens the polar night into day.
Storybook moods to experience
Going out with my dogs on these nightly days is one of my highlights in my life in arctic darkness. I might also experience that wonderful spectacle that makes the polar night so unique: the moment when shimmering northern lights dance in the sky. Even if, from a purely scientific point of view, electrically charged particles are involved, the spectacle itself amazes locals, again and again.
Getting up in the middle of the night
Living in polar darkness is a challenge yes but by no means an impassable one. It’s like having to keep getting up in the middle of the night even though it’s morning. On the other side of the day, at 6 p.m. you have the feeling that it should be at least midnight.
My twilight routines
Around 10 a.m. the night gives way to a twilight that brightens and eases our daily life in the polar night until 2 p.m. I use these four to five hours to carry out necessary work around my tiny house. After a coffee (but before breakfast) I feed my huskies and do small work. Fill the water tank of my Tiny House on wheels, bring in firewood, shovel snow or prepare the rental cabins for the next guests.
The blue light of life in arctic darkness
After a short breakfast break, I head out with my huskies. I chose the lead dog for today and hook them up. An extensive training loop takes me through the snow-covered wilderness with the vast forests and swamps in my closest surroundings. On a clear day, dog team drives are accompanied by incredibly beautiful skylines. The polar sky shines in blue light and all pastel colors.
The size of us humans
Snow and storms also often accompany my sled rides. Then a wonderful feeling grows in me. Gliding with the dogs in solitude through the strong power of nature puts all thoughts back in the right place. I realize how small we humans are in our world and universe. Despite the cold and snow, this awareness kindles warmth in my body. It is good to feel that the world lives on even without us.
Exercising is important…
When I give the dogs a day off, I spend this twilight time with extensive training for myself. A long run or just wander through the snow-covered woods on skis.
I don’t take time to cook and eat before darkness falls in. After an enjoyable vegetarian meal, I am satisfied and sip on a hot coffee. I indulge in my travel plans, work on my writing projects or do a few phone calls. Living in polar darkness continues embedded in cosy human-made lights.
…even during the dark hours
If my body doesn’t ask for a day off, I take my shorter training sessions after the dog rides. I wrap myself in warm training clothes, lace up my running shoes, put the headlamp on and run along the street for a good hour. I rarely come across a car, mostly I have the cleanly ploughed but snow-covered street to myself.
Candlelight against the darkness
A hot shower and feeding my sled dogs round off my active part of the dark day. By that point of the day, I am living in polar darkness for already more than four hours. Time to heat the stove and prepare a light dinner. I light a lot of candles and spend the remaining four to five evening hours writing, with my travel plans or just reading a book. It feels like the clocks are going slower.
Finally, living in polar darkness takes its end
But soon, in the second week of January the daylight sets in. From the east, the otherwise pale light in the sky becomes more intense and lets the silhouette of the hill behind Soutujärvi emerge from the night blackness. In our region, we honour this natural event with a celebration, “Kaamos firandet”. Kaamos is a Finnish word and describes the light conditions of the polar night. Many villagers produce ice candles to decorate their dark gardens. In a joint mission, we enlight the bicycle path along the main road between the villages. The beginning of the end of my life in arctic darkness for this season.
Check out my blogs to read more about my simple life with a tiny house on wheels and eight huskies!