– Mom, he says. – Now I’m really looking forward to it. I wish we could live there forever. Do you promise to wake me up before we land? I also have to see what it looks like from the sky. Then he falls asleep. In my lap. On their way to their third visit to Svalbard. He shares the lap with the little brother who fell asleep on the plane when it took off. Even I am afraid to relax. Afraid to miss the moment when the midnight sun grabs the plane and tells us that we are heading north – where our hearts long to constantly.
It has become a bit like that -, that we have to travel there again and again to confirm that it really exists. The magic land on the extreme pole. Although we carry it in our hearts and have hundreds of proofs, it is so far away from our everyday lives far south on the mainland. The longing is so strong.
– August, now we’re here. The eight-year-old wakes up with a set. Beneath us are massive mountain areas covered with snow and ice. I have experienced this approach many times, but still I can’t do for it; the tears are falling, this time,too. The eight-year-old squeezes his nose against the flight window. He can’t do for it either.
The midnight sun, high in the sky, as if it was time for breakfast, welcomed us as we left the plane at two o’clock at night. Also the fresh, clear air. Two deep breaths of this purity and immediately the body falls to rest. Up here, the mind becomes clearer as the system slowly gets ready to land, far away, from all the stress and hassle.
At Svalbard, the logistics between the airport and the city are very simple. When a plane lands, the flight bus arrives. Same driver on all my five visits so far. Gentle as a lark, completely untouched by the fact that its in the middle of the night. The boys find their sunglasses and wonder why on earth we have to go to the hotel to sleep now. They are ready for adventure!
The next day I wake up first. I pull the curtains aside, and the devoutly feeling from the plane a few hours earlier, returns again. Mountains with their white snow stripes tell that the seasons are intimately linked. As if to remind you that things are connected up here. Eight weeks separates the midnight sun and darkness. Sixteen weeks a year, the day shifts at 78 degrees north. The rest of the time it is either or.
For two whole days, the sun rises high in a cloudless sky. It shines for us on walks in the Advent Valley the next day and on the dogcart trip the third. August finds a fossil he is guarding as a crown jewel. Ludvig photographs reindeer. Life is simple and we manage to be present together, here and now.
It’s easy to feel at home in Svalbard. The boys have become familiar and throw themselves into the dog yard, where the young puppies are ready to play. Both dogs and boys are fearless and carefree. – Mother, says Ludvig. – I want to take a puppy home. – It belongs here, I say – but maybe it can take us out on a sledgetrip when it gets a little older?
The fourth day awaits the challenge we have been most excited about. We climb the sugar peak (371 meters above sea level) and from there we continue over the mountain and the glacier. – First man! Shouts little brother and quickly realizes he’s not getting competition. Big Brother needs time on this journey; several times he has to sit down to enjoy the view. My backpack gets heavier and heavier by heart-shaped rocks, so it doesn’t go very fast up the steep mountain side either. Finally we reach the top – on the roof of the world we feel super strong and free!
The last day the trip to Barentsburg goes by boat. In the harbor we are met by a staircase with 264 steps leading up to the city. Again, Ludvig tries a “first man” and spins off. August and I wonder and wonder what it’s like to live here. A small community of almost 500 inhabitants, where most of the inhabitants are spending the days far, far inside the mountains. You must have nerves of steel, I think, while Ludvig thinks it’s “sick cool,” and August is mostly wondering what it’s like to be a kid here.
Traveling with children is so that you have to be prepared for hundreds of questions, which you cannot immediately answer. We wonder and google and always come home a little wiser than when we left. To see the world through the eyes of a child is to have a new opportunity to see it for the first time. Traveling with children is having to be vigilant and foresight, always have your backpack full of dry clothes and chocolate, it is being a guide and a motivator. Traveling with children is a huge enrichment.
“The land that is not,”Kåre Tveter said. He did not paint any of his pictures on Svalbard but took it from the heart to the canvas. At the same time, his words are both too big for me and fully understandable at once. We often ask: – Do you really exist, Svalbard? In March we will return to confirm again. Then the land will be as Tveter carried it in his heart; in endless shades of white. Again, we thank, with great gratitude.