Week 35: Elina, Johanna, Pekka and Veikko
The new Märket crew has arrived! And what an arrival it was: the most stunningly beautiful, calm, crisp early morning brought us to Märket in style. We were not the only ones to arrive, though: M/S Brahe visited Märket as a highlight on its annual lighthouse tour.
For a few hours the small islet was busier than ever - tens of guests enjoyed the bright sunshine, guided tours of the islet and the lighthouse, and (of course!) coffee and cookies. The cheerful crew of the previous week worked together with us to provide a memorable visit for our numerous guests.
All in all this first day has been a day of visitors: in addition to the M/S Brahe visit, four guests came on Sefyr together with us in the morning. Two kayakers also passed by on their way from Sweden and stopped to greet us - and later in the afternoon two Swedish couples spent some quality time on this beautiful islet.
As the evening slowly approaches, it's getting peaceful - visitors are gone for the day, and we are slowly landing to the pace and sentiment of life at Märket. Wind is still calm. All but one of this week's crew are experienced "Märketers" who already know how to get on and about here, but the one first-timer (me, that is!) couldn't be more fascinated by the old, cosy, rustic, invaluable piece of Finnish maritime history. Sigh!
Waking up with a bright morning sun shining through the bedroom window, realizing that the sea might be even more calm and beautiful than the day before - one couldn't wish for more on a late August day.
Morning started with work for the new sauna: some roof work was done, and the sauna door got a new layer of paint on. Johanna prepared the museum room for wallpapering work which we intend to start tomorrow.
After lunch the brilliant weather attracted a group of guests from Sweden. After a guided tour of the light house and islet, Marianne Brus, a member of the Swedish lighthouse society and definitely a warm-hearted friend of Finnish lighthouses, handed us a lovely present: a photo of Märket from 1929.
Needless to say, we greatly appreciate the gesture! It was also very interesting to hear the stories our guests had to tell: Marianne herself was born at Understen lighthouse island, and has lived there most of her life.
In the afternoon we had two more groups of visitors, a couple from Sweden who stopped by for a Sunday picnic, and a group with three generations (an elderly man with his son and grandson and a young lady) together, enjoying a sunny sea trip from land to Märket.
As I'm now completing today's diary entry, dinner has already been served and the (temporary) sauna is heating up. Evening is falling, sun is setting, and life is good at Märket.
Life at Märket is now starting to form a daily routine: different tasks follow each other, work proceeds, visitors enlighten our days with their interesting stories.
This morning we begun our work day by checking if the fresh paint on the sauna door was already dry - and got help from a surprising creature!
Johanna and myself then took a brave step and started to re-attach the old wallpapers in the museum room; aiming to maintain the original look of the room.
During our morning coffee break, two Finnish birdwatchers came to photograph birds and shared stories from their earlier Märket visits. In addition to these fellows, we had a very nice Swedish couple as our guests. They were interested to hear Pekka's presentation about the history of Märket and appreciated all the work that already has been done to bring Märket back to life.
After the visitors had left, our day continued with Pekka and Veikko working at the sauna construction site and Johanna at the museum room.
Wind has now picked up a little but the weather is still very sunny, enjoyable and summery. After an afternoon window jamb paint job, I decided to go fishing ... Luckily we have not planned our menu based on a daily supply of fresh fish!
Calm, warm, sunny summer days seem to be over. Now it is only warm and sunny. Wind from the south is getting harder by the afternoon, about 10 m/s. We are a bit worried about the fact that our nearby reef, usually used by resting seals, is completely occupied by insolent birds, especially cormorant (merimetso, skarv), which is not always a wanted guest. A couple of times our regular visitor, the eagle, appeared and scared other birds away.
We did not have any other visitors today, probably because of the hard wind. But we still continued business as usual: Painting, glueing of old wallpapers, shop inventory, brick inventory and, of course, the sauna project.
Everyone of our team gets a fair share of the daily routines. Today was Johanna's (our leader) turn to wash the dishes and Veikko's turn to make the dinner (what a delicious experience it was!).
After writing the lines above, unexpectedly, late at night, two visitors from Mariehamn arrived to a short visit by a small rib boat! They wanted to hurry back home before it gets too dark.
Today we put brain activities (shop & brick inventories etc) behind us and started to use our muscles instead. We organised the "makasiini" storage and carried quite a pile of thick old floor boards inside from the yard.
After a well deserved morning coffee, we saw a rather large boat approaching Märket in a determined manner - and soon we welcomed a group of men from Turku (Finland), on a day trip with Märket as their main destination.
Quickly we divided the group into three smaller teams and showed them around in the lighthouse. The tour was completed with coffee and group foto, and the guys were ready to return to the mainland. Thanks for the visit and welcome again!
I cooked late lunch after our guests left, and even baked some cake (although a little black on the surface, it still tastes good - must be the lighthouse climate?!). No more guests joined us today and thus we spent a nice, quiet evening: went to sauna, grilled sausages in the dining room oven, photographed the sunset.
With some wind, splashes of water on the rocks, red sun at the horizon, the sea is magical. As Moominpappa wisely puts it: "The sea is an amazing creature. Sometimes its happy, other times not. And it's completely impossible to know why. You can only see the surface - but if you like the sea, you don't mind... If you like the sea, you tolerate all its moods. -- We all like the sea. That's why we came here, wouldn't you agree?" (Muumipappa ja meri, freely translated quote)
It's Thursday and our week at Märket is soon coming to an end (as hard to believe as it is!). And for the first time, we have seen something else than full sunshine: last night it rained, and brave Pekka took the "dog shift" - the poor fellow went out at 4 am to protect the new sauna from the rain. In the morning he and Veikko continued with the sauna project by assembling the new door and taking down the scaffoldings we've used this week. As the building already starts to look like a proper sauna, it's about time for some "before and after" shots (see below).
We did some good deeds with today's lunch: for one, we followed an old Finnish Thursday tradition, and for another, we practised economical cooking... In other words Johanna cooked us canned pea soup and completed the delicacy with a lovely dessert: canned peaches in syrup.
After lunch we still continued with some jobs. I painted, again, and Johanna focused on admin tasks documenting this week's work and preparing a task list for next week's crew. We've also got some airborne company during the last couple of days ("some" being quite an understatement): sulkasääski (Chaoboridae) crowds seem to be everywhere at times.
Even with some clouds, the evening is really beautiful and photogenic today. As the wind is also calm again, we had dinner out at the terrace. But no matter how hard we tried to look, with or without binoculars, the seals are still not with us. Maybe tomorrow?
Today became our first day with no visitors at all. Hello there, dear readers nearby: we are still here; welcome to Märket! We promise an interesting guided tour (even with ghost stories if you wish), good coffee, mediocre cookies and maybe even slightly burned cake (unless we have eaten all of it by then) - and great company, no more no less!
Who would have believed how fast a week can come to its end? As we suddenly realized that this really is our last day here, we became busy with completing all sorts of jobs. Johanna completed what she modestly calls "first aid wallpapering" in the museum room, and Pekka finished up the sauna project work (for this week). I tried to complete the "business week" with matching cash books... (Some sweaty moments there!)
Our wish to see seals finally came true: Märketskallen (a tiny islet nearby) was full of seals this morning. A minor setback is that the islet is so far that with bad eyes (like mine) one could hardly see them even with binoculars... But seals it was - we were happy to see that they still spend time around Märket.
All in all this day has been full of preparations for leaving and making sure that the lighthouse is welcoming, cosy and clean as the new crew arrives tomorrow morning. The week has certainly been a pleasant experience for us all. The weather has been beautiful, work has proceeded well, and our heterogenic group has had a good and fun time together. Johanna (who this year coordinates the construction work) and Pekka were here already in April, and were now really happy to see how much has happened since: great work of all crews!
As I'm completing this last diary entry, listening to Johanna and Pekka cooking dinner and laughing together in the kitchen, it's comforting to know that Märket is not going anywhere. Here she will wait, white light blinking through the darkness of nights, tolerating all the moods of the sea.
"Father wiped away all his thoughts; he just lived to the fullest, from the tip of his tail all the way up to his ears. As he turned and looked at his island, he saw a white light spreading over the sea, invading into the empty horizon, and coming back in long, regular waves. The lighthouse had been lit."
(Tove Jansson: Muumipappa ja meri. Freely translated quote.)
Good bye for now,
Johanna, Pekka, Veikko and Elina (today's diarist)
Week 35: Elina, Johanna, Pekka and Veikko