Chapter 17: Polar Night (Kaamos)
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
In the snowstorm, Sieg and I fed the dogs. The reindeers are in the fenced area of the forest. If the wind recedes, we will be able to take them out on walks, but because of the weather today we sent them back home and told them to stay there.
I want to say that I then relaxed with Sieg, but a poor noble cannot afford such elegance.
There was a mountain of work back home.
When I said that, Sieg said that she will help as much as she can.
She really is a dependable wife. I was moved to tears.
First, we started off by processing the furs that we had been neglecting.
Fur can’t be washed in water. So, it is cleaned by using a special powdered soap with herbs.
“First, we sprinkle this special powder over the fur.”
Today, I am working with a student. Wearing an apron, Sieg was an earnest student who wrote down the method on her note.
I sprinkled the powder all over the fur and rubbed it with painstaking care.
“Once the colour of the powder turns, we shake it off.
“Although it’s hard to see just from looking, fur easily becomes dirty,” I muttered as I continued working.
I continued to rub the fur. I made sure to scrub off any stains.
“If the powder’s colour stops turning, we remove it.”
With swift movements, I brushed along the grain.
For the finish, a cloth soaked in soap water is used to scrub the fur.
Now that I was done with explanations, it was now Sieg’s turn. I supervised her to see if there weren’t any mistakes.
“Yeah, you’re doing well.”
Having good senses, she cleaned the fur with a nimbleness unexpected from a novice.
When I wondered about that, she told me that it was similar to taking care of leather equipments when she was in the army. Then it makes sense.
Coats, shoes, hats and gloves. With both of us working, it only took a while to finish.
“It’s fortunate that Sieg is here with me. I was alone every year.”
There are double the amount of goods because of Sieg, but it was fun to work while chatting. Since I was the type to work slower when alone, it was really nice that I had Sieg.
Next, we cleaned the house.
Though she was an esteemed daughter of a powerful noble family, she was still a woman from the army. She did the cleaning perfectly.
“We did our own cleaning ourselves.”
“Aa. Since no one liked cleaning, we took out games in our break times and made the losers do the cleaning……”
When she just enlisted in the army, only thirteen, Sieg lost a lot so much that she became good at cleaning. However, being the type to hate losing, she bought books and studied strategies to win.
“Now I see why can’t win.”
“But you have potential.”
“Eh, really? I wonder if I’ll start winning soon~”
“I wonder about that?”
“Then, won’t you just lose once for me?”
As we chatted playfully, it soon became time for lunch.
For lunch, I heated the rest of the soup and roasted reindeer meat on a skewer with some herbs on the fireplace.
Today’s reindeer was one that was recently caught by sieg.
Unable to hold back anymore, I took a bite. The texture was amazing, and the delicious juices flowed in my mouth. The herbs did not interfere with the mean and mixed in with the juices.
Even Sieg made a surprised expression from how different the taste was from the usual reindeers.
“This is amazing.”
“I’m glad. I wanted you to taste it. Rather, it’s thanks to you that we can have this.”
To that, Sieg made neither a modest look nor an approving look, but just wore a warm smile.
To such a precious expression, I unconsciously fell for her.
However, that smile quickly disappeared and was replaced by a stern look.
“It’s dangerous to reindeers alone.”
I was also deredere because I got to see Sieg’s rare smile, but she soon turned back to being a soldier. I felt strongly that not everything in the world is so sweet.
The talk was not yet over. Holding a spoonful of soup in the air, I stopped and stared at my wife.
“I might be able to help next year. Then, let’s hunt together.”
“……Eh!? O, ow, hot!”
From her words, I ended up spilling the soup over the back of my hand which was resting on the table.
While I was still in confusion from her words, Sieg wiped the soup off with a napkin. Then she opened the windows to get some snow, putting them in a cloth and placing it over the back of my hand.
“……What are you doing.”
I can’t tell her that it was because she said something about next year. If I looked expectant here, I thought that I might end up burdening her.
For now, she will stay by my side for a year. That’s still good enough, I told myself.
After lunch, we started working in the workshop.
Again, I was with my diligent student Sieglinde.
“Today, we are making kuksas”
A traditional craft of the Sami people.
It’s small drinking cup, made through a vexatious process.
The ingredient is a dried birch burl that was harvested two months ago.
It’s to be made with one that is sturdy and is fine-grained. However, in this area, there are only birches here, so I think it just might have been that we had no choice but to use them.
“First, we carve off the barks, turning it into a wooden lump.”
The barks are carved off with a specially designed chisel.
Since the wood is hard, I thought it might be hard for women, but even here Sieg was strong and had dexterity.
The round birch lump is carved into a square shape, and a round hole is carved in the middle.
Taking time, Sieg made one, and I made three.
“Sieg, your hands, are they alright?”
Birch wood is really tough. Recalling how I got blisters at first, I asked out of worry.
“It’s fine. The skin on my hands are already tough.”
“I see. I’m glad to hear that.”
“Ritz’s hand is much worse.”
“……Aa, since we don’t really apply medicine afterwards.”
I muttered as I stared at my scarred hand. Hardships are unending here in this snow country.
In this village, people just rinse the wound with fresh water and rub it carefully to cure the wounds.
Some time ago, at a foreign ball, there was one time when I fell over because I was drunk. There, they applied medicine on the wound and wrapped it in bandage, so I was very surprised.
By using medicine, the pain quickly goes away and it leaves barely any scars. Thus, I made the village shop import medicine, but since the villagers still believed in the old methods there are always some medicine in the stock.
Of course, if we receive a severe injury or a serious disease, we do call doctors.
It’s because my grandfather advocated that the Spirit’s teachings were mostly wrong.
When I told her about things like that, Sieg also understood.
As I sighed while sipping warm mulled wine, more work awaited me.
The fourth carving. It’s not up to the point it can be scraped out cleanly.
“Once it’s done up to this, we bury it in the snow.”
There was still a snowstorm, but I went out anyway. I buried ones I just made, dug up the birch wood that I buried yesterday.
“This isn’t finished yet.”
After letting it sit in the snow for a day, the wood is then boiled in salt water, with it’s concentration being the same as sea water. If that’s done, the wood gets barely any cracks.
“After boiling it, we have to dry it to make it clean. Well, this takes time as well.”
It takes even more time to fashion the cup.
After it’s boiled, it needs about seven days to dry.
I carved a little bit off the dried wood from a week ago. Thinking that it was enough for one day, I cleaned up and left the workshop.
It was the start of the long polar nights.