It is funny really, when the sun never sets, time takes on a new and otherworldly dimension. Day and night hold less of rigid structure, and the idea of wearing a watch suddenly seems ridiculous and entirely pointless.
I landed in Finland in the late evening, the sun was casting a soft golden glow over the trees and lakes we passed on the drive home. By the time I reached my apartment it was nearing midnight and lighter than ever. It is a most surreal feeling, trying to comprehend the time on your watch and the broad daylight outside the window. I fell exhausted into bed, reassuring myself I had a whole month to explore, shoot and discover the phenomena of a sun that never sets.
One of the most common questions I received from friends at home was “how do you sleep when it’s light at night?” I realised pretty quickly that sleep was not a priority for me. Although I spent the entire month sleep deprived, this was not due to the inability to sleep. It was the inability to stop. I spent every hour I could hiking, working, exploring, editing and so on. Six days a week I was doing some kind of work with Ruka tourist board, from rafting in the rapids, to canoeing on a silent lake at midnight. Days on the farm included feeding, walking and marking the reindeer calves. The marking traditionally takes place over midsummer, every moment of light is needed for the long and exhausting process. It is not uncommon to spend 12 hours or more, locating the herd, deciding on where to build the enclosure, erecting the fence, tagging, identifying and finally marking every reindeer calf, before releasing them back into the wild.
After a nights marking, and a full day of work I had no problem falling into bed exhausted and sleeping through until my alarm early the next morning, and on a day off through until midday. Despite my constant exhaustion, there were some nights where the low fog, soft glow of the sunshine and incredible scenery were enough to tempt me away from my bed and into the forest for hours of exploring. On too many occasions I found myself oversleeping my 6:30am alarm, checking my watch, leaping out of bed and dashing to the car for work.
So I suppose, on reflection, I did need a watch after all. To make it to work on time, to plan midnight wild swims and to try and gain some semblance of routine. Even if that was almost nocturnal.