Another day in paradise

Three seasons in Swedish Lapland have gone and passed. Every season has come with an abundance of mixed feelings. Already in summer I decided it would be my last trip to the Swedish north. One to end it, one to close the chapter, one to enjoy driving sleds in Kiruna one more time. It didn’t turn out as I expected: it didn’t turn out to be that season that provided good closure, an end on a positive note. Nevertheless, it was the best season I’ve had.

Many people dream of working in Lapland, especially when it comes to the dogs. I was once a dreamer too. I often heard from guests that I must be so happy with the job because it’s the best one in the world. And yes, it is. Except for the other side of it, the side that makes most people head south again after one single season.

When confronted with the duality of their dream job I often heard other seasonal workers reply: “Yes, yes… another day in paradise”. I know that there are many sides to this sentence: some honesty, with a hint of sarcasm and skepticism. This one line nails down what is hard to explain in more words. I always found it hard to speak openly about many issues while I was still there. So now that the journey has ended I feel that I should explain how I personally experienced my time up north.

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The end

Coming to the end of a winter season feels very similar to coming to the end of a long hike: it’s an intense period and it seems that it will never stop, then suddenly it’s all over. People who were automatically around go their own ways. Life as it is stops right there.

My last scheduled tour was a week tour with 6 guests. I had been looking forward to it for a long time: a week out with the dogs during those long, sunny spring days. I still wanted to go to a remote cabin far up the river, close to the mountains: Vieksaluokta. I hoped for the guests, the weather, and the tour schedule to be nice.

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The delight of daylight

Ever-increasing daylight hours have brought leisure and ease to the forest. All the little things that have to be done can now be done in daylight. Seeing what you are doing makes the same tasks feel much easier and actually much faster, so we have more time on our hands. On guest-free afternoons we can sit with the dogs while we tend to the fire to prepare their food. We fetch water in the sun. Sometimes I can stand still and just admire all that daylight.

During a pickup one of the accommodation hosts asked if I started to get tired of the season. I told her it was quite on the contrary and that I feel I have much more energy now than earlier. “December is when I really get tired”. She laughed: I was apparently the first person who ever looked at it that way. But really, when you live with so little, tiny things can make you happy. The warmth of the sun and the ever-increasing bright hours of the day are just such a delight.

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Seven days of sunshine (but mostly snow)

The end of the dark season is a tough time, every season again. After the sun has officially risen above the horizon it still takes an undefined amount of time before one can actually see the yellow ball of joy, depending on where you are and how many obstacles are to be found towards the horizon. Besides of a lack of sunlight we found ourselves becoming claustrophobic in the woods, which certainly didn’t help to keep the spirits up during those final dark days.

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Howls in the woods

Twenty days ago PJ and I left civilisation behind once again and together with 36 huskies we were relocated to a cabin in the woods. When I wake up in the morning and step out of the door they are the first things I see, swinging their tail, jumping around. I see the sky turn into a painting under the polar night. I see the silent white forests, the snow covered trees, the occasional bird. When I go to bed in the evening I hear nothing. No cars, no people, no loud music, no trains, no humming and buzzing. Only the howls in the woods echo in this frozen world.

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