Northern Lights

How incisive climate zones educe cultural traditions is a common insight for the well-traveled. Nevertheless it is rarely tied to boredom with new adventures to the never been land. It appears to be hopeless to get a coffee here Sundays. Even its one of the bigger cities in northern Norway the Town of Bodø remains devoid not to say dead on this weekend day. A strong cold breeze batters along the empty streets and even the sun promises its return only by two months’ time. I am not staying here anyway, just passing by. I will keep wandering north, leaving the Arctic Circle behind. Towns become scattered houses and later sole wooden home’s facing the solitude.  Nature’s maternal call is constant as a reminder to the narrow viable spectrum in temperature for the human body to survive. It’s cold! The last stretch up the coast and into the fjords, I hitch on one of the former Norwegian post ship, run by the company Hurtigruten. A trolley loaded with cargo is the only thing beside me to leave the ship at 4am into the dark night of nowhere.

Spending a winter season in the Arctic came with a recommendation for engagement, mainly due to the constant absence of the sun, civilization and pleasant temperatures. From sprinkled seeds thrived the possibility to volunteer on a husky farm. What do I know about dogs? About as little as anybody else who never had one. This means all requirements for emerging new experiences, ideas and interactions are given, a good outlook for a trip worth having. I very much trained myself to anticipate these moments of ignorance as everything appears to be in reach if you don’t expect much more than to learn.

A month passed since I stood the first time in front of the kennels. Sixteen dogs barked annoyingly towards the new intruder. A moment of aimlessness familiar to anyone who intends to master a new skill without comprehending what this skill has to imply. One by one I picked up every name, learned to know their character, strength and weaknesses. By now I can tell them apart only by their movement in the dark, recognize the bark and start to feel troubles before they can arise. It might sound silly but this is how I do imagine a primary school class. There are Alpha dogs, grumblers, princesses, introverts and almost any other character you might come up with. Nevertheless there are just very view options to put them together so everyone has a good time. To be applied in the kennels, the house or at the sleds. With 3 dogs per one 40sqm kennel, they will have a great time if you don’t mess it up for them. Putting the wrong dogs together, forgetting to chain them before feeding or provoking any pack inconsistency, your furry friends will bite each other to pieces. A fact you might get reminded once in a while and these occasions will test your reaction, authority and the understanding for pack hierarchies and boy does it mess up your day when you have to throw yourself between two of them in a blink of an eye so everyone is still alive after. It could be seen as a fancy way to train leadership abilities, everything is reflected right back at you and you are most probably not becoming the Alpha dog by barking the loudest.

The dark divides its time among hostile snow storms, calm and silent starry nights and the dance of charged particles emitted by the sun, ionizing in the upper atmosphere and leading to aurora emissions. This astronomical event plays so well with an ambiguity. For most brains won’t enjoy the dancing colors any less if comprehended only the optical stimulation itself. A dance also known as polar – or northern lights.

 A small, family run farm typically expects you to be a generalist. Beside the two owners we are three volunteers who keep everything up and running. Scarcity of work is never a worry, not less as we are also renovating the guest house next door; currently still a construction side and my housing for the time I stay here. Not even the remoteness between the fjords and the mountains, almost a half hours drive to the next town with a head count of two hundred, shows much significance to tedium. The first lack of snow was easily compensated by hiking the mountains pulled by two quadrupeds. Once the street was frozen our imagination couldn’t hold us back from dog sledding on children sleds, racing around and testing the dog’s endurance. Recently the patience for snow became rewarded and it is time to go real dog sledding and prepare for the imminent winter season.

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