It’s all white now

Swe­den in win­ter is an icy won­der­land

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Europe -

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.

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