Every year gets harder and harder. I always go into the dark season with a gameplan – good food, good sleep, in bed before midnight, exercise and geting out during the blue light each day – but I always come out the other side with no energy and two sets of bags under my eyes. The dark season lasts in Alta two months. Christmas and the New Year is celebrated with no sun and the 60 days is spent with just a blue twilight for an hour or so.
This year I focused on eating fresh raw food to give me more vitality during the darkness. It was a good idea in theory but as the dark season progressed the food in the stores became older, spoilter, squishier and tragic really. Oranges were smooth and spongy, mangos were grey, ginger had fungus and cellery was white. It was across the whole shopping board (as I am one of those people who shop at every store in the city).
Norway has to import nearly every normal fruit and vegetable from Southern Europe, Africa and South America, so you can imagine how long it could take before food reaches Norway, and then to the north, where I live. The longer food travels the less nutrients it has and the higher risk of eating mouldy, spoilt food. A plant-based diet is extremely difficult to do, in my city, at least.
There was one time before Christmas that I constantly remember and longed for. Our daughter Lilu suffers from dry skin during winter and we were at the doctors to get a perscription for some ‘wonder’ cream. The doctor was a substitute brought in from Sweden (as our doctors here like to go on holiday around Christmas). The Swedish doctor had brought with her a UV light and had it sitting on her desk when we visited. It was divine to feel the light on my face and body. Out of all the vitamins I was missing the most during this dark season, was the one that only the sun could provide me best – vitamin D. Next year I am definately going to get me one of those sunlamps. Just thinking about it now makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.
The dark season isn’t just hard on ‘immigrants’ like me, who are used to regular sun hours, Norwegians struggle too. It is known that drepression is a high risk during the dark season. As the seaon progresses my dance kids are less energised, it is hard to get them moving. It is common for some of my dance kids to become a little anemic too – pale white withdrawn faces and no mental energy. ‘Red meat, spinach, raw nuts and eggs’ I preach to them but like most kids they screw up their noses at the thought.
I must admit that I welcome the dark season every year. It is one of the first indicators of the Christmas season. I think everyone looks forward to the great slumber and think they will get some slumbering in too. However, life continues and at times feels faster than when we have the sun. My body gets tricked – because there is no light it doesn’t know when to sleep. Insomnia sets in. By the middle of January I can tell that everyone in the city is really feeling it. Everyone gets sick too for long periods of time because their bodies are too tired to fight. I’m used to this time of year being the summer holidays, being from the Southern Hemisphere, so solidering on without a longer break is extra hard.
Every year when the sun returns it is a bigger deal than the last. I see people looking to the south to catch a glimps for 10 mintues or so before the sun ducks down under the horizon again. This year I nearly cried when I saw it for the first time.
I’m glad to say that the sun is finally back again. Having faith that the sun will come up every morning is one thing, waiting for it to come back up after 60 days is another. This is certainly one of the things that connects Norwegians to nature. They not only observe the sun’s habits but participate physically, menatlly and emotionally in the sun’s cycle. Norway is the one place I know of where modern life is so integrated with the cycles of the sun.