I landed in Lapland in the late morning, and the landscapes appeared surreal. The crystal snow was wrapped in a dim, blue lunar light. Slowly, the sky opened up with a timid golden hue peaking from behind the tip of the pine trees.
As I would soon discover, the winter in the Arctic Circle is a never ending dawn, frozen in time. We stood there, in between darkness and light.
That night, we would hunt for the Northern Lights.
Incredibly enough, my 5 layers + polar jacket were not enough. The jacket could resist -26 C, but we had to deal with -36 C that night, so we put on what looked like an astronaut, one-piece suit, additional gloves (we already had 2 pairs on), extra socks, shoes, and a helmet. I tried to snap a picture, but my phone died instantly because of the cold. And so, we started driving up and down the hills of the pitch black (and white) Arctic forest. But the snowmobile was hard to control. Öpi, our Sami guide, had warned us that if, ever, we would fall off trail, and the snowmobile would fall on us, our legs, arms and chests would have to deal with more than 300 kgs in crushing-power. The trail was iced, the terrain a mess. Several times, I was about to lose control of the vehicle and I felt I was close to the end. I had never been so focused before. I had understood this was a place where a mistake could kill you.
Suddenly, we saw a weird, small, ghostly cloud in the sky. But with the lights on, we couldn't tell what it was. As soon as we turned every single light off, it became a green explosion dancing in slow motion above our heads. Now... it is difficult to explain. I had seen the Northern Lights in pictures, in videos before. I KNEW what they looked like. But it's as when you see a ghost in real person. You have seen "pictures" of it on buzzfeed, "videos" of apparitions on youtube at 4 am when you couldn't sleep, so many times. And still, when you see it WITH YOUR OWN EYES, you don't know what you're seeing. It's a sudden suspension in cognitive function. The brain, since we stopped being children, seems to be used to making new connections between already KNOWN objects. Here, instead, there's no connection, no meaning, no context yet. Just a new, pure object. The brain doesn't seem to process it fully. You just end up staring at it, thoughtlessly, like a child, feeling on the border of outer space, and letting your eyes be filled with what you see, as if they were little precious stones.
We didn't take any picture that night. But the next night, instead of us hunting the Aurora, it was her hunting us. And she found us, at -38, outside of our igloo.
Now I am back in Tel'Aviv, and it feels a little weird. Where is the ice? The lunar light? The berries?
With the eyes still full of the things I saw, I finally opened this website. May it be a new beginning for us all.
The picture below has been taken outside the igloo. As a bright man once said, it depicts two natural phenomena staring at each other.