Sunday, December 11, 2016

Amber Mist

Umeå Airport (UME) is a quintessential outstation. Typically, flights get in from Stockholm-Arlanda, spend 25 quick minutes on the ground before flying back south. The mood aboard these flights fascinates me. Although not as explicit as when leaving Norway, there is a sense of collective relief mixed with anticipation as the plane flies out over the Gulf of Bothnia for its hour long jump down to Stockholm. From there, all of the world lies open. Returning home, the mood is quite different. Already at the gate at Arlanda, there is a warm sense of familiarity as friends bump into each other and prepare for a new sojourn in the High North. While flights to Kiruna may be more extreme in this regard, it still feels like you are now part of a secret club of which all its members share the same fate.

To me, Umeå has come to represent an alternative reality of sorts, a refuge where the kids can live a life quite different from how most kids grow up these days. A car-free existence with the forest just outside the door. However, living here also means foregoing strolls through the Retiro Park or a chance to browse the shelves of Liberia on Hanbury Street. Obviously, every choice means that something else is not chosen. Fortunately, that does not necessarily hold for good cheese as I was able to secure some Snowdonian cheddar at our local COOP. 

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