Up at about 07:30 this morning when Jack decided he wanted an early pee. The mercury was reading minus ten, though it has since climbed to plus two degrees. It had been down to minus 13 a few hours earlier. I went out in dressing gown to collect kindling etc., to get the stove running and thought it felt a bit raw. Now, it’s hovering at around zero and feels like it might stay there for most of the day, with more large-flaked but lightish snow falling.
Oddly enough, you do become acclimatised to the extreme temps given time and exposure. Anything up to around minus ten, we now consider reasonable and think little of. I’ve been known to nip out to the various sheds, garage etc in short-sleeved shirts/T-shirts at that level and can potter around in the garden for about quarter of an hour like this without giving it a thought. It’s only on stepping back into the house, where the warmth envelopes you, that it’s particularly noticeable.
When it reaches, say, minus 27 or thereabouts, we consider it to be cold! Then, as soon as we step out onto the porch everything turns white, rimed with frost in seconds, hair, beard, eyebrows. You get the picture.
But ‘How dark is it?’: that’s a question people constantly ask. There’s an assumption – because of David Attenborough’s Arctic telly stuff – that it must be dark for six months of the year. We’re a few hundred miles South of the Polar Circle, so don’t get it so bad, though even over the Circle it’s seldom truly dark.
It remains a question that is invariably asked about winter where we are living. The answer is, of course, no, it’s not always dark at all. Indeed far from it. We never completely lose the sun, even in deepest winter/December, when it can just be glimpsed on or slightly above the tree-line. Admittedly the days are short with dusk falling in mid-afternoon but when everything is white with ice and snow – which it tends to be for months on end – the light is remarkable. Even at night with a full moon reflecting light onto the surrounding snow, we can see for miles. And there is also the Aurora Borealis to brighten things up too.
We are based in a tiny Swedish Skogsbyn – a typically Swedish compound word – Skogs and Byn – meaning forest village. Our nearest town, Junsele, has a population of only about 900 and the nearest town of any size is the principal Kommun town of Sollefteå on the Ångerman River, about 80 Kms to the South. There’s also the town of Strömsund about 70 Kms distant but that’s in another region, Jämtland. As is the pretty town of Östersund.
For the geographers out there, we are at latitude 63.41 N, roughly on a par with much of Alaska and the Yukon where, for example, Whitehorse (Yukon) is at 60.43 N and Anchorage (Alaska) at 61.13 N and Dawson City (Yukon) at 64.05. So, we’re pretty far North. And like its North American cousins, there is said to be gold in some of the streams and rivers, although they’ve never had the madness of the Gold Rush to contend with. A new farm business/touristy thingy has recently been established a bit South of us, near Sollefteå. It offers Gold panning outings among other adventure type holidays, and looks quite interesting. We’ll probably pop in and say hello in passing sometime. So, if you fancy a break with a difference this might be your thing:
Another interesting touristy thing is located just over the Circle at the small lakeside town – little more than a village, really – of Porjus. This is run, at least in part, by a Brit, and specialises in Aurora Watching/photography breaks. Again, I think it looks interesting:
Tourism is on the increase in the region although, so far, it tends to be summer visitors for the most part. This is a pity as some of the best experiences up here are decidedly winter based events: snow-scootering; ice-fishing; Aurora watching; Dog-sledding etc. There certainly seems to be a potentially rich seam to be tapped into here for those with stamina, determination and vision – which pretty well rules us out. But with views like this, it’s hardly surprising that many Germans and Danes (surprisingly) are buying up property and moving into the area:
Recent figures from the state land registry show a marked increase in the number of foreigners buying property in the country. As we’re hoping to sell up now, we hope to benefit from this trend.
I’ve now got the new updated version of Blogger and it seems impossible to download/upload vids from the Chube. So I’ll leave you with this link address instead: