The first day of summer 2013 in the United States, the longest day of the year, still has less sunlight than northern Norway right now. Territories in the arctic circle have, effectively, 60 first days of summer.
Courtesy of Saleha Mohsin
Today the sun will shine for 18 hours, 50 minutes and 1 second.
Now I realize that in December, when the days are short and the imposing darkness begins to wear on me, I’ll regret having said this: I’m tired of the sun. My body needs the kind of peace that only a dark, starry night can provide.
At first I was looking forward to being in Oslo on June 21, the longest day of the year. The best remedy for a grim Norwegian winter is the buildup to the summer solstice. But I went on a whirlwind trip with the Foreign Press Association into the Arctic Circle where, for five days, I didn’t see a cloud in the sky. Just the intense, bright yellow sun. In northern Norway towns like Kirkenes, Honningsvåg, and Vardø, the sun doesn’t set for 60 days. Even when the peak of the midnight sun has passed, twilight increases by just 40 minutes each day. There isn’t a proper dark night from April through August.
The first two days I was charmed by the whole thing. Sunshine all the time! Having to wake up about four hours earlier than I’d like didn’t feel so tough because the brightness and surprisingly warm weather lifted my spirits.
After a few days I started to feel tired. The sun was there when I got up at 6am for a press conference with the prime ministers of Russia and Norway, and at 2pm when we drove to the Norwegian-Russian border for a ceremony. When I clambered into bed at 11pm, I could see the sunshine bursting through the ineffective hotel curtains. My eyes opened for a moment around 3am and the blazing sun made me feel like I had fallen asleep watching television in the middle of the day. Even after eight hours of sleep I still felt like all I’d had a power-nap.