March 01, 2021

Polar Youth



Polar Youth
Ski Kirovsk. Andrei Borodulin

Misha Smirnov has the day off. There are the traditional eggs for breakfast and the usual darkness out the window. Now, however, Misha’s black cat Macy is finally darker than the sky: a few days ago, this latitude saw its first sunrise after about two weeks of polar night. By now, the city of Kirovsk is enjoying a couple of hours of sunlight every day, or rather a delightfully prolonged pink sunrise that transitions seamlessly into sunset. On top of that, despite the early hour, the city is bathed in artificial “Northern lights”: the windows of the surrounding five-story buildings sparkle with blue, emerald, and pink strings of light that, in other parts of Russia, only come out for the New Year’s holiday. Polar night forces people to compensate for the lack of light and of chromatic variety.

“There’s not much light, hardly any. I’d been eagerly awaiting the polar sunrise so I could go up the mountain and see at least a sliver of sun again,” Misha looks back on that pre-New Year’s day, December 29, when the heavenly body made its first appearance after half a month.

“The older you get, the harder the Arctic is on your body. I’ve started to have insomnia. I can’t fall asleep even when I’m exhausted,” the 22-year-old laments, polishing off his breakfast.


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