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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Spring

 

Spring always represents a clean break in the season. Suddenly I wake up early in the morning because the sun is piercing my eyes. It’s so warm outside that I only need a fleece jacket to go around. God forbid, I have to take sunglasses on tour, I need them for driving, I need them all the time. It’s spring. The long winter is over and it’s time to get nostalgic about things.

A winter season in Lapland is a roller coaster of emotions with many ups and downs. In the cold, dark days or during peak season when things get hectic and overbooked there’s anger, frustration, maybe even an urge to leave from time to time. Then on a good day out on tour with great guests there’s this euphoric feeling of that I’m on top of the world, of never wanting to leave this place. I still haven’t gotten quite used to it and it happens every single season again.

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The beginning of the end

For the past five days I have been so incredibly tired that all I felt I could do, was sleep. Outside endless snow kept falling from the sky. Around 50cm of fresh powder must have been dumped on us during the past three days. When I was driving back PJ’s overnight guests yesterday, they asked me if the road we were driving on was a forest track. So much snow had fallen that there was hardly any trace of it left.

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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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