Lapland is a winter lover’s dream. Seeing how I gravitate to all things cold, snowy and cozy, I instantly fell in love with this winter wonderland. It was seriously like I entered into the secret world of perpetual winter as described in C.S. Lewis’ timeless tale the Lion the witch and the Wardrobe. Everything sparkled with a perfect dusting of clean, fresh, white snow. The homes, which stood in direct contrast to the the icy landscaped beyond, looked cozy, warm and inviting. Even time itself seemed susceptible to the cold and seemed to pass in a natural and unburdened manner. It was liberating to be free from the distractions and business of our age while we drifted back into the age of yesteryear.
The Cabin was everything a cabin should be and I wanted to stay here for a month instead of one night. I imagined myself vacationing here with my family in the future. I could see myself sitting in the rocking chair next to a roaring fire place while safely watching the wintery exhibition displayed through the frosty windows. It felt safe and warm and full of goodness and “Hygge”. This Danish word pronounced “Hoo-ga” has no actual translation into English as it is a cultural feeling/ sensation.
The closest translation for the word Hygge is and I paraphrase: The feeling of complete coziness, fellowship and contentment you get when you are in a rocking chair next to a roaring fire, roasting marshmallows while holding a warm cup of coco in one hand and a warm cookie in the other with all of the people you love most in the world sitting nearby laughing and talking as you listen to Christmas carols and smell the pot roast that is in the oven while the snow gently falls on the roof of a moss covered cabin in the middle of the woods on a beautiful starry night. Phew….say all of that in one breath!
Hygge is a word that needs to be introduced into our vernacular because the above definition is a little too long to put into an actual conversation and it is such a valuable concept! The word that describes this feeling of complete happiness and contentment is hygge. The warmth and glow of candlelight- that is hygge. Sitting around a table talking and laughing with friends- that is hygge. Curling up with your favorite book in your favorite chair and warm blanket- that is hygge. And the cozy cabin we found in Lapland was dripping with hygge.
The landscape beyond the cabin looked pretty great itself. While I wish I had the luxury of wasting the day inside the cabin, I knew my time in Lapland was limited. So I had to leave my cozy little haven of Hygge and explore. The first thing I noticed when we first arrived to the Kakslauttanen winter resort was the dozens of sleds standing in attention outside of the main lodge. I couldn’t wait to ride them. I quickly found out that they were actually designed to transport luggage to the cabins and Igloos. I did not let this stop me from having my fun though.
Then I set out to cross the open field just down the hill from my cabin….and halfway through crossing the “open field” I figured out it was actually a frozen lake. It was at this point that I realized I had made a major mistake. I suddenly noticed the bridge and wished desperately to be on that bridge instead of standing the middle of a frozen lake. It wasn’t that I was worried that the ice would break and I would fall through. The problem was the amount of snow on top of the ice. Somewhere along the way I found myself standing in waist deep snow. For a moment I had a hilarious flash forward of someone finally finding me in the middle of the night stuck in snow up to my armpits in the middle of a lake not being able to move…like a frozen Kelly Popsicle. Thankfully this did not happen and I struggled through crawling and clawing my way across the lake….I am sure I looked really cool doing it too. I also wished I was wearing snow pants not just regular jeans…… Anyway, I finally made it across the lake and I found the Igloo chapel, and the…well I am not sure what to call it but “iceberg” seems fitting. Anyways, these were beautiful sculptures made out of giant piles of snow and ice and they drastically added to the charm of this little cabin village.
On my way back to the cabin I saw a building on Fire…..There was smoke billowing out of the windows and edges and I was immediately alarmed. I of course, went to the front desk and told them about the fire. They said that building I described was their smoke sauna and I could enjoy a wonderful smoke sauna from 2 to 6 that afternoon. I politely thanked them for the invite and left knowing I would never want to do a smoke sauna….ever. It looked like my worst nightmare.
I finally returned to our cabin soaked and cold so I decided to make use of our private (regular, non-smoke) Sauna. So I got in my bathing suit and sat in the Sauna….I don’t know what I did wrong but it didn’t get that hot. Anyway, I still wanted to do the whole jump in the snow thing. So half way through my sauna I went outside in my bathing suit and did a cannonball into a big pile of snow. This was not as fun as it seemed. 1) It was cold, like so cold it took my breath away. (duh.) 2). The snow was kind of hard and icy and I ended up with scratches all on my legs and arms. 3). It was so deep there was not a clear exit strategy. I suddenly had to relive the whole lake fiasco of me crawling my way out of snow that was deeper than myself…. only this time I was in my bathing suit. So, I would not recommend this to anyone who thinks it would be fun to see what it like to cannonball into a giant pile of snow wearing only a swimming suit.
Late that evening we were taken on a Reindeer sleigh ride through the Tundra under the most spectacular display of northern lights Lapland had seen in the last decade…..but that is worthy of a blog post all on its own. It was amazing and incredible but also very cold.
We returned to the cabin that night wanting desperately to sit and warm up by a nice fire in the gorgeous fireplace. However….making a fire turned out to be an exercise in futility. I spent more than an hour, an entire box of matches, several flammable hair products an entire notepad of paper and several ripped pages from my book and we ended up with a big fat nothing in our fireplace. I vowed then and there that the next time I visit the most perfect little cabin in Lapland I will either A) know how to build a fire, B) have a husband with me who can build me a fire or C) bring a fire starting log thing….they make those right?
I didn’t let the lack of fire keep me from enjoying the hygge cabin…..for too long. I am not going to lie I was a little bitter at one point. I mean why had adults warned me my whole life not to start a fire and burn down the house or the forest. I couldn’t start a fire even when I wanted to! OBVIOUSLY it is more difficult to start a fire than adults let on and I should have just gone ahead and played with matches. Oh- well. I settled into my rocking chair and I finished knitting a scarf I had started on this trip and I simply enjoyed being in Lapland. I knew that tomorrow I had another day of adventures ahead and I was so thankful for all that had happened to lead me to this point in my life because I have a wonderful life!
3 thoughts on “A Cabin Dripping with Hygge, a Fireless Fire, A Journey over a Frozen Lake, and a Cannonball in the Snow: Lapland Day One”
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Did you throw water on the kiuas (the heating thing with stones on it) while in sauna? A Finnish sauna doesn’t work very well as an experience without it… You need “löyly”.
Also the smoke sauna has no smoke in it when people use it. After it reaches the desired temperature it is ventilated.