On 3 February the activity was looking promising. I stayed at home with the children tucked up and Chris trekked outside up our mountain. We really think of it as ours because most of the Norwegians who live nearby never venture there. In fact in all the times we have gone up there we have never seen anyone else. By default it is our mountain. We hope Norway doesn’t mind. Its not like they don’t have an abundance of them and we are particularly fond of it.
When you live somewhere so cold and your main form of heating is a wood burner you get through a lot of wood. If we had been organised enough we would have cut all our wood last year, stored it for the year and stacked it under the house ready for chucking into the burner. We’re still newbies when it comes to life in the Arctic. We’re still learning. Needless to say we didn’t forward think about cutting wood. In fact this time a year ago we had planned to be back in the UK right now, settled back into our English way of life. Little did we know the pull of Arctic living would be so great we just wouldn’t be able to return….. so here we are….. minus the stash of winter wood.
Its cold. There’s snow everywhere. We have an electric heater which is very fancy and effective but expensive to run. We’re on a very tight budget. With a new business just starting up and both of us working our old jobs (me as a Music teacher on Skype and Chris as a Web Developer) and so finding wood on our mountainside and using that to heat our home is a much better option than spending out on electricity.
We spent a whole day, all 6 of us, hauling fallen logs from halfway up the mountain down to the garden. That wasn’t the end of it although it was hard enough. We then had to cut the into 8 inch long chunks. Each log then needed splitting with an axe. We certainly felt it the next day. We calculated doing all this by hand rather than with lots of power tools would see us through until next month. We have the BBC coming out soon so we certainly didn’t want to be thinking about it while we were trying to film.
Spending so much time outdoors doesn’t seem strange to us any more. I mean it did in the beginning when we had to think so hard about what to wear to stay warm and found the snow hard to walk in. Now we just layer up with wool and out we go. It gives you a totally different perspective on life. Its exciting for us to have sea eagles swoop overhead but not unusual. The same for reindeer wandering past or this mother moose and her baby. This was filmed just yards from the back of our house. How fantastic is that?
On 4 February we got our catch of the sun too. It felt blinding! It was a bitter sweet moment really. The sun had returned and now for the next 3 months each day would get longer and longer until the nights would disappear altogether and be replaced by 24 hours a day of sunlight. We relish the changing light but we also know what it means and we try not to feel too down about it. The countdown to the end of the season has begun.
As if to remind us that summer wasn’t quite on its way yet mother nature decided to deliver us a thrilling experience in the form of Hurricane Ole. Now THAT was an experience! The house we are renting has a flat roof on part of the lounge. It sounded as if it was going to literally lift off and get carried away. As the wind hammered the fjord and our little wooden house the snow was banked up in a drift against the weather facing wall. It covered the windows on the ground floor and nearly reached the next floor up. When the morning got lighter the inside of the house remained dark because the windows were half covered.
Here is a video of Chris ‘nipping’ outside before it really hotted up. It got much worse than this but we decided to stay in and not risk losing any of our doors!