Monday, January 18, 2016

A Trip to the North

'And so the time came for the white hare to journey north. Far away, high up above the arctic circle, to where the sun does not rise in winter time. To the land of the Lapland woman, the Finland woman and the Snow Queen. To where the wardrobe's door opens to an icy sparkling world. He had heard the song of the North call to him for so long and now the time was right'
Finnish Lapland. Two hundred and fifty kilometres above the Arctic circle, this is where I was lucky and grateful to begin the first week of the brand new year. An adventure in a magical snowy land. The land of my dreams. A place where after only a few minutes outside, my hair and eyelashes had turned white with ice. A cosy log cabin, our home for seven days. A cabin that I wanted to continue living in and take home with me by the end of the week.
Inside the cabin was warm and cosy with a log burner and a weeks worth of wood outside on the porch.
The white hare stood out in the cold snow beneath the starlight and whispered to the sky. His words were carried up into the polar night. He told of a robin that knew the secrets of old and silently the lady Aurora answered with the most beautiful reply' 

Our first night we were blessed and saw the Aurora borealis right above our cabin. A milky green rose up and arched across the sky. I hadn't realised that she moved so quickly. A shape almost creature like, tip toed sideways above us. Walking diagonally she swished her tail as if to say 'here I am'
The Finnish term for the Northern Lights is 'Revontulet' meaning fox fire, which comes from an old tale where the fox was believed to swish its bushy tail on the snowy fell landscapes, throwing sparks into the air. (would love to incorporate that into a painting at some time. :))
That first night I was unable to capture any pictures. Results on my camera were totally black blanks of night sky and so was my iPad. Only my daughter seemed able to catch them on her phone.
So, the next night, after a day of cross country skiing I set my camera up on a different setting and crossed my fingers that she would return again...
She did, out of the seven days we were so so lucky to get glimpses four days out of the seven.  Pictures are blurry as I literally just held my camera to the sky and tried to hold it still. I had no tripod or any fancy gear.
'And she danced, swirling her green gown across a sparkling sky. The white hare watched in wonder and all that he had imagined became reality'

Aurora over the cabin...
In the morning at about 8.30am-9am with a beautiful crescent moon.
The morning walk to ski.
Father Christmas was no where to be seen. Taking a much needed break I'm sure! 
A week filled with hot chocolate, hot berry juice, elves, reindeer, twinkling lights, crackling of log fire, crunch of snow and the clear cold air of the north, in my lungs. 
One afternoon, out in the forest, when already darkness was approaching. We met some reindeer.
In a wooden sleigh lined with a reindeer skin and a thick blanket to cover, we were transported through the forest pulled by a white reindeer that looked as if he had stepped straight out of the pages of a fairytale. The heavenly arctic twilight cast a spell on me as the sleigh pulled and creaked like frosted branches on a windy night. It was at this moment that I knew that the Snow queen would have me in her grasp forever. The magic had entered my eyes and the North would always be pulling me back.
The temperature on our journey was -33, so it was quite difficult to uncover my fingers to take photographs and hold the camera still.

In the forest the white hare met a reindeer, who told him how the Snow Queen had tricked him. How a spell had been cast and how now she would own part of his heart forever.

When the journey was finished, darkness was almost upon us. We went into a cabin for hot berry juice and cake.
Inside I learned a little about reindeer and Sami people. How they freely roam the forest, how the deer that pull the sleighs are only male. The amazing fact that reindeer can see the white moss and lichen that they dig up and eat beneath the snow, using ultra violet light and how each single strand of their hair/fur is filled with air, which is why it keeps them so warm in the cold. I got to feel the antlers that are shed each year. I would never have believed the male ones were so heavy. I learned how the clothing colours of the Sami people tell which area they are from and even if they are married or single. 
Outside in the snow the ice sparkles. Tiny diamond glints mesmerise and whisper... do not go home, stay...stayyyy with us...
High on top of the fell was Narnia.  Amazingly beautiful! A wonderland.
And a frozen cafe that looked as if it belonged on the top of an iced Christmas cake.  How warm it was inside though, with an open fire.
Far up in the northern lands where darkness is more abundant in the winter months how clever Mother nature is. Such balance of dark and light. Dark, yet then the light from the pure white of snow. Dark and yet, the magical dance of polar light in the sky...
'The white hare returned home, leaving part of his heart behind in the Snow Queens' keeping. And on nights when the stars shone bright and there was ice on the ground he felt the missing part pulling him like a sting of a white bee' 

Now here at home, when I look up at the seven stars of the plough from my garden, on clear starry nights. I will remember the North and it will remind me to return one day. I have to, as how can I live without all of my heart?



  1. So pleased the skies lit up for you, you are so lucky. Beautiful photos

  2. What a wonderful experience - thank you for sharing it. And how lucky to see the lights on four nights. I hope you do get to return one day. Hope I do too. Pam x

  3. A beautiful post, I so enjoyed reading this! Thank you.

  4. What an incredible adventure you must have had! I can't wait to see how this holiday influences your paintings.☺

  5. What an incredible adventure you must have had! I can't wait to see how this holiday influences your paintings.☺

  6. So beautiful and magical. My heart was fluttered as i saw and read.
    By the way, your lovely calendar is hanging on my wardrobe door in the hope that it will magic it :) Cicely

  7. How magical, the photos of the snow appear very ethereal, look forward to seeing if you incorporate the story of the fox's tail in your work.
    Maura Xx

  8. what a bewitching story. I felt transported. Thank you for sharing such magic

  9. Glorious country full of the most wonderful people. I have never got as far North as you but I am married into a Finnish family; it is a very special land of stories and art, hospitality and joy. So glad you got to the land of the Kalevala

  10. I loved reading this post, I was transported by your words and images. I am sure your journey will inspire your art. x

  11. Thank you for sharing this with us... a most magical adventure.

  12. What wonderful Lapland magic! A posting filled with so much beauty & gorgeous snowy wonder. It's a journey I'd love to make and your words bring the whole experience to life and as for the White Hare - well, he has quite a story to tell - maybe a book of his adventures? Or a least some beautiful paintings will come from this I'm sure. Thank you so much for sharing, Karen - pure joy! What an incredible way to start 2016 :) x

  13. Your best post over! clearly a part of your heart will be staying there - how lucky to see the sky light up so many times and to capture such beautiful pictures in very unfamiliar conditions. I expect you have returned full of inspiration and ideas for your work. Thank you so much for sharing your visit in such a creative way.

  14. 5 years ago I also went to the Northern Finland Arctic Wilderness. It was mind blowing, and so inspiring, and unless you have been there and seen the dry Arctic snow sparkling like glitter, you cannot imagine the wonder of the place. It inspired lots of my jewellery. I have a small birch twig that I picked at -28 degrees that is cast in sterling silver and I use in my work. It will always remind me of the most amazing trip. x

  15. Your description of the Aurora borealis is so vivid I can imagine the whipping of a fox's tail. How lucky you were to be able to see it, I hear many people travel all that way and never get a glimpse! I'd love to see a painting based on this! The photos of 'Narnia' look so otherworldly, so beautiful, so white! What an incredible trip. xx

  16. Would you share where you were exactly? Thank you for sharing such a magical experience. Your work is beautiful and this trip will surely feed you for months to come!

  17. What a beautiful, magical place! Your photos are wonderful. Love the white reindeer!!

  18. Beautiful, Karen I am so pleased you had such a magical time. It is not surprising that the Snow Queen manages to steal a piece of your heart in such beautiful surroundings,there is much to easily distract & enchant you, sending blessings xxx

  19. OOOh Karen you lucky lucky thing, it all looks so wonderful and so magical and a real fairytale experience. thank you for sharing with us xx Amanda

  20. It truly sounds like you had a wonderful time. Taking the magic and offerings of the land fully to heart. So lovely that the heavens danced for you. Thank you for sharing about the reindeer, i did not know those things. We have deer, moose and elk, now i wonder if their hair is hollow.I will have to look that up.

  21. That would be an amazing experience.Great photos.Seen the Northern Lights a few times in the Scottish Highlands over the years but nothing like that display.

  22. Dear Karen . Hope you've settled back down to earth once more ..🌟🌟🌟! Loved this post . Very beautiful to look at and hear your magical words and descriptions . Loved the reindeers! Magical . Brrrr I enjoyed reading with a hot cup of tea . Thank you for sharing with us all ! ⛄️🌟💕😊

  23. This is such a beautiful post! Seeing the Northern Lights is one thing I really want to do in my life time. Wow!

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  25. Wow! How magical looks beauitful I would love it as much as my boys x


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