The Lapland Gold

If you try to get in contact with your Lappish friends these days by phone or by visiting, you would probably find that they are not at home, neither would you be able to reach them by mobile phone. The answer you get on the phone is that their phones are out of reach; no possibilities to connect. What is going on in Lapland these days??!

The answer is cloudberries! This year Lapland is blessed with more cloudberries (rubus chamaemorus) than the last 2-3 summers. The beginning of this summer in Lapland has been exceptional with warm and sunny weather for weeks now and only one night with degrees below 0  during the blooming of the cloudberries. The insects have done a wonderful job, and the inhabitants of Lapland are now delighted and every one is out picking cloudberries on every possible time off from work or other duties. You can even stay out on the swamps and in the forests all night long and collect berries because of the midnight sun shining. The Lappish people do their sleeping during the winter. The summer is the time when you fill your deep-freezer with all the delicacies from the nature. First the cloudberries, then the blueberries and the lingonberries and finally the cranberries.

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Outside the densely built-up areas the possibilities to connect to mobile phones are weak and on large areas even non-existent. That is why you cannot reach your friends who are out collecting cloudberries on the swamps. Luckily the emergency number 112 is still working in case the cloudberry picker gets lost or has an emergency out there. Every year someone gets sick or disappear on the swamps when picking berries. There is of course also reason to be careful in the wilderness, not at least with the possibilities to meet an angry bear. All bears are of course not angry; usually they absolutely do not want to meet people and they escape as soon as they get the whiff of a human being.

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Many keen pickers are also able to sell part of their harvest to berry buyers for a quite good sum of money. The offered price for cloudberries has been real good for some years now; up to even 18 euro/kg, and even unemployed people have been able to get quite an extra income on berry picking. The state of Finland does not claim any taxes for these kinds of income. This year, due to the good harvest, the price unfortunately has fell to hardly half the price; 10 euro/kg, from last year. On the other hand pickers are now able to pick with both their hands instead of only one hand as they have done the last years.

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The Lappish food factories bring berry pickers from Far East, from Thailand, to help to collect the harvest needed for their fruit products manufactured in their factories. There has been a lack of some cloudberry products now for some years, which will be fixed this year, I am sure. During many years already these kinds of berry pickers from Thailand have been brought to the Lappish areas during summer. Some inhabitants of Lapland do not approve of these manners and every year these topics are up in newspapers and on other public forums. Some Laplanders claim there are not enough of berries in the swamps and that they think the incomes would be more useful for the unemployed Laplanders instead of given away to foreigners. But this year hopefully these kinds of greedy thoughts are left behind and the harvest is big enough to share among also others than the Lappish people. May the thought of how  the job for one man as berry picker here in Lapland for one summer season helps a whole family back home in Thailand to get a better life, bring peace into the hearts of the Finnish people, too. And frankly, not many of the Finnish pickers are disturbed by these foreign pickers, and you are still almost certainly able to enjoy the harvest from your own secret cloudberry places alone. The areas of the swamps and forests in Lapland are really vast.

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Added when the cloudberry season was over: Due to discussion with local berry picker there were a lot of cloudberries that had to be left on the swamps because they were too mature, not suitable to eat anymore. .

 

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Polar night or Kaamos and Midnight sun for the first time

The polar night is a phenomenon above the Arctic circle that means the sun does not rise above the horizon for an amount of time depending on how near the north pole the place is. In Rovaniemi the polar night, or kaamos as the Finns call it, really do not exist because the sun rises around Christmas time for a couple of hours during the day time. But still people use to call the time around Christmas and New Year the kaamos time. As my friends heard I will stay in Lapland during winter time they asked me how I would cope with the kaamos. After I experienced my first kaamos winter I really have to say, it was no problem at all. On the opposite, I found the kaamos quite exciting with the blue shine all day long, only with an exception of a couple of hours of light yellow sun shine in the middle of the day. You get the feeling of real arctic moments then. It is an relaxing feeling as you are surrounded of this blue atmosphere. It the weather is really cold, as it usually is at that time of the year, the blue light turns out to be even somewhat deeper.

The changes from summer lights to winter kaamos and on the other hand from kaamos to light again happen faster up in the north of Finland than in the south. The fact is that on March 20th and September 22th day and night are the same length in both south and north of Finland. Still in Lapland there are these periods of kaamos and the Midnight sun in the summer, when the sun does not set in the night at all for a period of time. The length of the time of the Midnight sun is depending on how near the north pole the place is; just the same as the fact about polar nights. In Rovaniemi region the Midnight sun period lasts from June 6th to July 6th.

These two pictures are from the polar night.

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This picture on the other hand is taken around midnight during the period of Midnight sun in Rovaniemi. It is amazing when you can stay outdoor all night and you have no problem to see in front of you because the sun is shining all the time. It is a well known fact that the Lapish people take advantage of these light summer nights and they do not sleep very many hours per night. During the winter and kaamos time they on the other hand sleep more hours.IMG_2218