I awoke with excitement on the morning of Friday 21st January – the official day of the sun’s return up here – ready to see its long-awaited bright round head poking above the mountains. The heavily overcast sky didn’t give me much hope though and despite expectant souls all over the island wishing for the clouds to clear, the sky remained stubbornly grey and dark. We celebrated, nevertheless, with ‘varm sjokolade og solbøller’ (hot chocolate and sunbuns) – a nice tradition practised particularly in primary schools where kids dress up in yellow and make sun-decorations.
The following week however, the clouds were ready to lift their veil and there it was… perched low on the horizon, that great ball of light, greeting us once again after its winter sleep. The days are getting lighter and lighter at the same incredible speed that the dark descended upon us not so long ago, with the sun staying in the sky for roughly 10 minutes more each day.
It has been a busy month as university has geared back into full speed, Sivertsens Kafé has opened its doors more days and more hours and the enticing sun beckons me to the great outdoors…
I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed two snow and laughter-filled weekends away in the mountains in the last month. The ease with which one can simply hop on a bus and be well and truly amidst the wilderness within no time at all here is something I treasure and try to make the most of!
A weekend in January saw the first fjellgruppa trip of the year where we took to the mainland, armed with cross-country skis and good cheer. I have to say, it did feel a little ambitious, reminding myself that it was only the third time that I had had these things strapped to my feet as we piled off the bus in the middle-of-nowhere blackness of the Friday evening and swung rucksacks on to our backs ready for the 5k ski to the cabin. We all made it safe and sound and very much ready for a candle-lit cabin, pasta and card games. The following day whipped up quite a snowstorm, but since this particular trip was based around orientation and map-reading skills, it was perfect conditions to give us a challenge! We spent the morning skiing around not far from the cabin and practising reading the compass, returned inside with stinging red cheeks for lunch before heading out again for the highlight of the tour… learning to build a snow-cave. There was something eerily surreal about kneeling in this little white pocket, hacking at the walls and trying not to think of the several meters of tightly packed snow which sat above my head. I was doing quite a good job of keeping this out of my mind and enjoying the therapeutic chip-chip of the shovel until my burrowing-accomplice made the observation along the lines of ‘doesn’t it feel a bit like digging your own grave?’… we didn’t quite manage to make ours big enough to sleep in so spent a cosier night back in the cabin. A couple of the guys did an impressive job on their ‘snow-palace’ however, complete with beds and a spacious corridor, so spent a reportedly comfortable night out there sheltered from the snow, by the snow.