The previous night gave us a stunning performance of Auroras going into the reds as well as greens. It turns out to be fortuitous timing as I head out in the middle of the night for a pee (outside toilet) and notice the show. André initially reluctant to awake but then gets amazing stuff standing in the middle of the river with his tripod.
We have been keeping an eye out for reindeer but what we learn is that all the reindeer in Sweden are owned by Sami (indigenous people that share geography across Finland, Sweden and Norway).Their history is no different to other indigenous races across the continents and they have undergone much repression, forced Christianity and significant over taxing through the ages making them convert from a nomadic reindeer lifestyle to an husbandry style of living. They now have their own political representation and Parliament looking after their needs. It is a simple life still totally attached to the migration of the reindeer over the seasons and a harsh life spent in Lavu ( Sami tents) at times.
One is very lucky to come across a reindeer in winter that has not been corralled and we do not luck out on that one. We decide that the best way to learn a little about the Sami culture is to go to a small community with an outdoor museum set up with the way they live over the seasons and some reindeer. Like the caribou in North America, reindeer love lichen, we are told that it is like a treat to get fed some. So we get a biggish bag and enter the coral. Instant interest by both the currently no anter girls and some partly deantlered males. Their lips are very soft and they nuzzle in for a snack. One of the males is a bit more demanding and climbs up on me with big hooves. A little scolding to settle him down has little effect but I manage to be reasonably fair in my snack distribution:) I don’t think any of them are actually Santa’s reindeer as they do not respond, to Rudolf, Dancer or Prancer!
The day finishes with an amazing Swedish sauna, the cabin where we are staying in has a boatshed and within it a sauna room is built. We build a fire in the pot bellied stove heating a large canister of water and fill buckets up from the frozen river using a small ice hole. That way we are ready to splash water on the beautiful timber walls of the sauna. Candles are lit in the boathouse, temperature just right at + 70C and we get to have a shower dousing ourselves with water from the hot canister. Quite the treat. As we step outside and tumble gingerly in the snow the exercise is complete.