I was on a boat in the middle of a lake that spends most of the year frozen in thick ice. It’s well past the Arctic Circle, and outside of the summer months, it’s dusted with snow. But when I am there, at almost midnight, the sun was still hovering in its golden hour, where it would stay until it rises again. It doesn’t have a second to set in the summer months in the north of Finland. For almost two months the sun doesn’t set, the warm glow of light just hovers in the sky until it comes up again. The sky was swirls of gold, orange and blue and it was so still as the licks of pink hues started to creep into its palette. Our small wooden boat pushed through the clear water underneath this stunning sky with the water dark and green, you could see the silver white fish swimming beneath the boat. Knowing that it would look like this all evening was serene.
It was the last night of a trip exploring Lapland during its magical midsummer. I had spent the days earlier looking at local ceramics, driving through the expansive landscapes dotted with shadows of reindeers, and eating cloudberries on absolutely everything.
It’s rare that I get to go somewhere that feels this far away. Almost the antithesis of London, it’s so remote and so untouched by plastic or pollution. I think that my London lungs were confused by the concept of clean air. Being somewhere like Lapland made me feel like I wanted to mirror the landscape, I didn’t wear a scrap of makeup or adorn anything on my body, no jewels, no make-up, just simple cotton clothes. I woke up and ate thin slices of rye bread with perfectly poached eggs or vivid orange cloudberry jam. I ate fish caught from water I was watching and drank icy pints of Lappish Gold beer. The midsummer air was warm, but the breeze never let you forget what this landscape usually looks like. ‘It’s minus 40 here in winter and the days are just darkness,’ was something I heard often ‘but the midsummer makes up for it’.
The end of our boat trip culminated in a climb. In the middle of Lake Inari, the second largest lake in Europe – it’s bigger than Belgium – there is a huge rock with tiny wooden steps that guide you to the top. Covered in wild herbs, moss and tiny pine scented trees, the air stood still as I sat and watched the sun not set. I think it made me realise that sometimes you can let everything else in life sit still and be suspended so you can just let yourself hear your own breath and heartbeats. Just placing yourself in a moment of beauty will do it for you. I came home a little clearer about what I wanted from my own summer and thought that maybe most of the answers in life come from stripping things back to being simple.