Wintry Scenes From Southern swedish city saffron buns, Northern northernmost

Swedish Wonders' Wintry Scenes

A photographer focuses on his homeland with his overseas duties canceled for the year – and finds plenty to admire.

I always send aspiring photographers the same advice: Wherever you are, you should start there.

The advice to follow is not always straightforward. After all, we are sent to the planet by hundreds of millions every year for our understandable curiosity and fascination of the exotic — which is different from what we are used to. And because I have been living and working all over Sweden for most of my life, I was awful to pursue it myself.

Sweden was always a place to rest, relax and spend time with my family for me. It was never a destination to discover in the manner that I have done so far in Madagascar, Malawi or Zambia.

I wanted to take advantage of the sealed borders and fly north from my house in Stockholm with all my international tasks and trips canceled this year. What started as a two-week journey soon became a number of trips, lasting months all year round, beginning and ending in the midwinter.

In northern Sweden, the first thing I can tell you about winter spending is that sunburn is no major problem. The second is that a headliner and several warm wardrobes are going to be packed. Sweden occupies about the same latitudes as Alaska, and while there are milder winters following climate change, it has little effect on the period of our everyday sun.

But I couldn't mind the lack of daylight when I was riding through the snow and ice on dog sleds, skis or cell phones, or lying behind looking at the magical display lighted by the aurora borealis. Instead, the wonderful beauty of the blue, frozen, white landscapes and the endless tones of blue drew my attention. The snow shone even the darkest nights away from buildings and highways.

I spent almost all my time outdoors, whether I went for sauna or walking into the nearby river (through a hole in the ice)— exploring Swedish Lapland, the northernmost area of Sweden, about as healthy as a pandemic during my journeys.

I was mostly based in and around Kangos' small hamlet and, in Lapland, host Johan Stenevad, showed me a world which I had previously seen only in pictures: frozen mountain tops, lakes and rivers, gangly moose and curious reindeer; snow covered trees; endless snow-shoveling.

But Johan also opened my eyes to another thing. One day, he switched off his motorcycle and asked me what I had seen on a snowmobile path lined with tall trees on both sides.