It’s all white now
Sweden in winter is an icy wonderland
through the drifts feet first to pluck them from their secret insulated worlds. No wonder it is frowning. If owls could hear the footsteps of mice through 1m of snow, our snowmobiles must sound like the Apocalypse.
The next day, perhaps by way of penance to the owls, I return to the forests for cross-country skiing, striding silently between the trees on narrow blades. But this sensitivity doesn’t last and in the afternoon I revert to type. I have discovered go- karting on ice, which is as hilarious as ballet dancing in wellington boots. Just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, you perform a clumsy pirouette and end up in a snow bank.
When the buzz of winter activities wears off, I head inland, an hour west to the village of Harads where I find Brittas Pension, a cosy B&B in the midst of thousands of kilometres of snow and forest. It is the kind of place where I want to curl up in front of the fire with a book and a glass of schnapps while Brittas, the owner, ferries cakes.
But I amnot staying at the B&B. I am staying outside. Brittas’s husband Kent dons his parka and leads me along snowy paths into the forests. When Brittas and Kent had the irrational idea of creating a tree hotel a few years ago, they asked several architect friends to come up with ideas. The startling result ranges from the Bird’s Nest, consisting of a clutter of branches like a rook’s nest, to the magnificent Mirror Cube, with surfaces that reflect trees and sky, which means it disappears.
I am in the snug Cabin, halfway up a northern pine. The bed faces a window that occupies an entire wall. For 90 minutes, which is how long sunset lasts in these latitudes, the dark silhouettes of trees are etched against a pumpkincoloured sky. Then the moon appears and silver light floods through the black trunks.
In the morning I’m woken by a colossal sneeze beneath my treehouse. Peering over the edge of the deck I discover three moose rooting among the drifts for grasses. They lift their heads and gaze up at me, snow caked on their whiskers. Astonishment is etched across their long faces at this unexpected vision of a man in a tree. Thank God I have remembered to get dressed.