Foxfire

The Finns call the northern lights revontulet, or ‘foxfire,’ after a fabulous mythical fox who swept snow into the air with its tail and ignited it. According to legend, if you talk to the lights, they will come down and snatch you, and if you fail to wear a hat, you might find them clutching at your hair. Clearly, constant vigilance is necessary to survive in the arctic.

I picked this up in the travel section of the weekend papers, an extract from Lavinia Greenlaw’s entry in The New Granta Book of Travel. Greenlaw went to the Arctic because she had “lost her imagination.” She found it again there, thanks to long nights and northern lights.

Armchair travelling, too, is good for rekindling the imagination. As we settle in for winter here, in the southern hemisphere, this might be an ideal collection for fireside dreaming. Granta have a fine reputation for publishing quality writing, and for finding a new take on established genres, as they did with a nature writing collection in 2008.

Given the location, I’m sure it is an arctic fox painting the sky green. If I come back as an animal, I would like it to be as an arctic fox; imagine being able to change the colour of your fur to match the landscape!

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