Chasing Light in the Polar Night: Tales from the Extreme North

Chasing Light in the Polar Night: Tales from the Extreme North

Chasing Light. Alright, so picture this – it’s winter, and darkness decides to throw a massive party that lasts from late November to January. I found myself in this extreme polar night situation on a tiny island off Greenland’s west coast a while back. Let me take you through the experience.

Invitation to Darkness: Greenland’s Winter Wonderland

So, I get this email inviting me to work in an artist’s “refuge” at the world’s most northerly island museum. Cool, right? Now, I had a choice – summer vibes or winter darkness. I chose the latter, and let me tell you, it was a journey.

The inhabitants of the Upernavik archipelago have zero sunlight during this polar night madness. But you know what? Embracing the darkness brought out a whole new perspective. The starry constellations, the changing moon, and the glow from a neighbor’s lamp became my companions. It was like a deep dive into my thoughts, a pause in the chaos of life.

Island Life and Festivities

Now, don’t think it was all gloom and doom. There were festivities to spice up the endless night – Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day – you name it. But the grand finale? The return of the sun. Imagine a community climbing the highest point on the island, led by kids wearing paper suns, singing a welcoming song. It’s like a real-life celebration of hope breaking through the darkness.

Iceland’s Winter Wonderland: Where Nights and Days Do a Dance

Jumping over to Iceland, where nights and days play a more distinct game. Yet, the magic lies in atmospheric phenomena. I lived in Siglufjörður on the Trollskagi peninsula, surrounded by corrugated iron huts while working on my book. Reading and writing indoors is a winter thing for Icelanders, but the real show happens outside.

Northern Lights: Nature’s Light Show

Let’s talk about the northern lights – those ethereal green lights dancing in the winter skies. Picture this: I’m cozied up in my hut, and through the window, I catch a glimpse of the northern lights. According to folklore, they’re elves having a cosmic party. But honestly, the mystery and ever-changing dance of the lights are what make them truly enchanting.

New Year’s Fun: Lead Pouring and Sauna Adventures

Now, let’s fast forward to New Year’s Eve in Bavaria, Germany. Ever heard of lead pouring or molybdomancy? It’s this ancient practice where you melt metal and predict the future based on its shapes as it cools. It’s like fortune-telling, but with molten metal. Sounds wild, right? We did this in Bamberg and talked about our interpretations all night. coin303

In Finland, they have a similar tradition called tinanvalanta. But if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, why not retreat to a summerhouse in the lake region for a sauna session? In summer, it’s all about jumping into the lake for a refreshing swim, but in winter, rolling in fresh snow does the trick. Trust me, it’s an intense experience.