Sunday, June 23, 2013

The arctic, in summary

And also, the arctic, in summer, where the sun doesn't set for months. I kept wanting to go outside at midnight to take photos, as if taking a picture of the sun above the horizon at midnight, could prove that it was happening. In fact though, it was overcast all but one night, and on that night (my birthday actually), the sun streamed through the windows, and Heiko stayed awake past midnight.
The big highlight of the arctic visit was the beautiful hiking. The trails were wonderfully maintained, I realized that this is probably not so hard since things grow so slowly in the arctic (apparently some of the lichens grow a few tenths of a millimeter each year). Whatever the reason, the trails were perfect for strolling with a baby in the front pack. And, Heiko also hiked some of them himself, which was fun if a little slow, and earned him his new nickname, Hikey. There were also beautiful burbling arctic brooks, and lots of little bridges and boardwalks. Once we got up high enough, the landscape took a turn toward the lunar, an amazing moonscape with dramatic views.
I also enjoyed the Nordic design elements. I can imagine how cozy the wood cabins would be after long days of cross country skiing. The perfect time for a sauna, I'm sure. I did try out a few different Finnish saunas (and I was told by our Finnish host that even the swedes do not really know how to do saunas), which was nice (if sitting in 75C can be described as relaxing?).
Saariselka, where we were staying, was definitely in its off season. The restaurants were empty, save for tour buses of Germans who came rumbling through each night. And the hiking trails where mostly populated by reindeer, not humans. This is interesting to me, since the popular time to visit must be in the winter, where, by symmetry, the sun does not rise for over a month. Can you imagine? I feel that we picked an excellent time to visit. It prompted me to wonder things, such as: do trees and plants need darkness/ rest to grow? What happens to plants when they may have 24 hours of sun exposure a day?
I would say that Heiko pretty much had the time of his life, wandering around, staying up late, eating reindeer, mucking around in the streams and smiling at e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. He made lots of friends, as usual. Well, I should say that it was the time of his life until we got to the Netherlands, rode bikes and ate pannekoeken. But that's another story.

1 comment:

  1. Love all of this! Love love love Heiko's smile. Such a happy guy! Happy for you and Happy belated Birthday!