Everything comes back to life. In mid-May, the cows give birth to their calves. The year begins. The brown bear has left its winter lair, and a new-born calf is an easy prey. In the forest land and on the south slopes of the mountains, patches of bare ground spread and grow. Water gushes in the brooks and fills the marshes. Waders and whooper swans give concerts in the light nights of spring. In the mountains, it is easiest to travel at night on the snow crust. The crust disappears before lunch and no longer carries a weight. The time is right if you want to experience the birdlife of Laponia, but forget about travelling long stretches. This is a transitional time between travel on snow and travel across dry ground.
Streams and river are brimming over with meltwater. The spring flood makes many of them impossible to wade across, so it is best to settle for staying near the mountains and the low fells.
Soon the wetlands will be teeming with life. Every spring, a wealth of crustaceans, frog spawn and worms attracts waders from far away to nest here. The bird chorus dies down by midsummer. Mosquitoes and gnats hatch and begin to pester man and beast. On the open wetlands in the forests, forest reindeer gather to keep cool, and then the calves can be marked. As in the past, angelica is picked among the delicate greenery in the mountain birch forest, and common sorrel on the meadows.
Powerful forces are in motion. The sun has turned towards our part of the world. Year after year, all creatures return to the same spot. The Arctic Tern has returned from the waters around Antarctica, and the reindeer from the forests to the east. All the plants and animals remember their place in the vast summer land where there is no darkness. In a few intensive months the animals and plants grow strong. People live well. At the end of June, the reindeer herders begin work to round up the reindeer for calf-marking. The marking is done in the cool of the night. Now we live as though the long, harsh winter with his icy winds and bitter cold did not exist.
When the first star begins to shine in the night sky, summer is over. The geese and other migratory birds collect and set off southwards. Silence falls over the trees and mountains. In the forests, on the marshes and on the moors, the berries are ready for picking. In good years, the reindeer can eat their fill of mushrooms. The necks of the bull reindeers grow thick and they rub away the velvet from their antlers. A harvest time of sorts begins. Plants, berries and herbs are to be gathered and buckets of fish for winter need to be caught. In the autumn darkness, the lynx stalks closer to the resting reindeer.
Autumn storms and night frosts make the ground cold. Forest and mountain creatures prepare for the approaching winter. At the beginning of September the reindeer herds are rounded up and everyone helps with the slaughter, before the bull reindeer are on heat. Moose hunting is a time we long for. The migratory birds gradually form large flocks that confer on when to begin the journey to warmer climates. The ptarmigan get their first white feathers. When the first star lights up late one evening, we reluctantly accept that summer is over.
The first thin snow covering comes. The forest has turned black. The bear goes into hibernation and the mountain Sámi communities gather their reindeer to separate them into winter groups. The reindeer are moved to the winter foraging land and reindeer are slaughtered for winter food. The animals leave tracks in the snow, revealing themselves. There is something secretive and slightly melancholy about this time. It is an unpredictable time in the mountains. Storms gather. For a few hours in the middle of the day, the landscape is coloured orange by the weak sun.
A winter’s night is never completely dark. On clear nights the moon casts sharp shadows on the snow. On a cold night, stars grow in the sky. The Milky Way is called Lodderáidaras, “birds’ ladder”. The migratory birds use it to find their way south. Late in the evening, three stars climb over the horizon. They are the three skiers, hunting wild reindeer or the big moose. About an hour later, the old man comes skiing in their tracks. Each day grows a ptarmigan step brighter. Those who travel in the mountains and forests have just a few hours. When the sun returns it brings little warmth, but it cheers up frozen souls.
Each day is one ptarmigan step brighter than the one before. Those who travel in the mountains and forests have just a few hours. When the sun returns it brings little warmth, but it cheers up frozen souls.
Now at last the sun is starting to spread warmth. The migratory birds return. In the mountain Sámi communities, preparations start for the westward migration to the summer land. There may be a blazing sun or a stiff wind and snowfall. In the forest the snow is still deep and heavy. The mating calls of the owls can be heard in the old-growth forest and the woodpeckers are hard at work. Almost overnight the days begin to dazzle and the nights grow short. Skiers come to Laponia, but we must always be prepared for weather that can brutally change all plans.
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