Mielke: Thoughts on winter, here and in other places

I swear I don’t think I fully open my eyes in the morning until I’ve had that first sip of coffee.

Until that magic time, I do most things in rote.

You know. Put the coffee on. Yawn. Look at the thermometer. Look again. Shiver. Check the coffee pot and wonder why it is so slow.

But this morning, for some reason I happened to glance out my east facing kitchen window.

The scene that met my eyes was actually quite beautiful.

It was like the whole eastern sky was filled with muted flames that quietly, but steadily burned away the darkness.

The dazzling sunrise made me open my eyes and even grab a photo.

But even then I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have seen such a sunrise until later, on my way to work I listened to the guy on the radio who was talking about winter.

The guy wasn’t talking about winter here, or even about us, the ones who chose to live here, in a place where the season of winter lasts until the last snowflake has melted which could be, well, seriously, it could be never.

And so, what do we do. We whine and complain a lot, for sure. Even when it is no longer minus 42, some of us find it hard to let it go.

We remember. And we congratulate ourselves on being tough. On being Canadians.

And then we talk about the short days and how it sure would be nice if only we had some sun for a little bit longer. No doubt, if we had more sun we wouldn’t whine and complain about when it was 42 below even after it isn’t anymore.

But still, we are Canadians, and we are polite so we always end our whining and complainng conversations with “have a nice day, eh,” as we tug our toques tighter around our ears.

Anyway, the guy on the radio was talking about a place called Tromso, Norway. Located over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø, Norway, is home to extreme light variation between seasons. During the Polar Night, which lasts from November to January, the sun doesn’t rise at all. Then the days get progressively longer until the Midnight Sun period, from May to July, when it never sets. After the midnight sun, the days get shorter and shorter again until the Polar Night, and the yearly cycle repeats.

It certainly piqued my interest, this place in Norway.

I tried to imagine it, the Polar Night, which apparently lasts from November to January. But, I couldn’t really get it. That is a very long time to be in the dark.

But, according to the guy on the radio who probably knew what he was talking about, the people who lived in this place were quite a happy lot and when the sun first peeked out for only a few minutes, they actually had a big celebration.

I’m sure they would be doing cartwheels if they were to witness the fiery splendor I saw splashed across the eastern sky this morning.

The announcer went on to talk about hygge, pronounced hoo-guh, a Danish term that loosely translates to “coziness.” Danes consider hygge a part of their national identity, and a ritual that helps them get through long, harsh winters.

I found this to term to be most interesting as well.

I would have to say that the other morning when I was sitting with my daughter in a cold arena, it seemed, for some reason, hygge (cozy). Maybe it felt that way because the overhead heaters were pulsating down some sort of heat wave on us, plus we were sitting on a nice, warm blanket.

Or maybe it was because we were sitting together on the nice, warm blanket and two of the little players on the ice were third generation family hockey players and it just felt good to be there.

Yes, it definitely felt hygge (cozy).

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