Week 36: Marika, Mikko-Oskari and Heikki
Our three strong crew found our way to the harbour early this morning. Two of us (Marika and Heikki) had had a good nights sleep and a good breakfast in Mariehamn. We were refreshed and good to go!
And what about our third crewmember Mikko-Oskari? He had decided to make the trip to Märket in a more physically challenging but also more environmentally friendly way – by bicycle from Långnäs. When we passed him in the car, he had already done some 50 km and had only a little over ten to go. We did try to get him to pass over some of his stuff into the car, but he would not hear of it. Brave man!
This week it was Bengt who took us from the harbour to Märket in his boat Felicia. A comfortable and quite fast boat, that is also used to take tourists out to see seals out in the islands. There was just enough old swell from the north to make sure that our time with the previous team was very short.
We had our first visitors the minute we got ashore. Two kayakers on their way to Sweden stopped to have lunch on the island. A while they were still here, three waterjets dropped by to hae a quick swim in one of the basins on the island.
After the old crew had left we walked through the buildings and all the safety issues. This is one of the most important parts of the week, which is why we did it thoroughly. And as the rocks can be very slippery when they are wet, we of course also checked the soles of our shoes to make sure they are safe to use on the island. All shoes passed the inspection.
Workwise this week looks like it will be a lot of small jobs rather than one major one. We checked the weather forecast for the next few days and decided to save the indoor jobs for possible rainy days later next week. And so we started by cleaning up the area in front of the new sauna building. Two of us there and one making dinner and washing up was the deal today. Tomorrow maybe something else – who knows.
The first night here is always something special, something different. The sound of the sea and of the wind is all around you, the blinking of Understen to the west, the lights of the ships passing... Even when one has been here before, it is something one notices. And all of a sudden the alarm goes off and it is Sunday morning and time to get up to make breakfast. And then back to reality...
Most of us have heard the 1958 hit by the Platters - ”Smoke gets in my eyes”. If you have not, drop by and I will hum it to you. I even like the tune. Still I started the day by doing my best to make sure that will not happen to anyone here before the oven upstairs is redone. This temporary structure should hold the smoke in the chimney and not let it get into the staircase.
Marika did some painting both inside the lighthouse building and in the new sauna. And Mikko-Oskari went through all the safety equipment to make sure everything is in good shape and easily available.
We went through the lumber in the magasine building and piled it into neat piles of likeminded wood. Here is Mikko-Oskari in his Adonis pose. In addition to being efective, one can also be stylish...
We also continued with the firewood project. Now I think ALL the wood planned as firewood has been cut into size. Some work left with the axe though – maybe tomorrow.
As Marika is the only first timer in this crew, I want to tell you a few of her observations: She felt that Märket and Understen lighthouses were ”chattiing” with each other, something I had never thought about. She also felt the limits of this small island more strongly that Mikko-Oskari and myself. It is good to have new people here to remind us ”oldtimers” of what this island and lighthouse are all about.
A new day and more work to do. Even more than we had on our original ”to do” list. A few emails and our list became twice as long as it was when we got here. This just means that we will have to keep the pace up, to at least get the unfinnished part down to something reasonable.
But before entering into the smaller details of our daily chores, we decided to test what the lighthouse building would look like, if the light were in the middle of the building and not where it has been so far. We think that being symmetrical looks quite nice → must take this up as an option, if we start running out of things to do here...
After a few hours of work we decided to make the most of a warm midday and had coffee outdoors on the western part of the island. It still feels a bit strange to just pop over to Sweden for coffee.
Just when we were finnishing our break we saw a helicopter approaching and yes it did land on Märket. Was it our coffeebreak abroad?
It turned out, that the Border Guard dropped off two Furuno specialists who did some maintenance work on some of the surveillance equipment here. These guys knew how to assure their welcome. They brought fresh pastry with them!
Later on in the afternoon, when the chopper came back to pick the guys up, the crew and two other Border Guard people also did a very quick round on the island. It was the first time for some of them and we got to show them the very particular way the borderline runs around the island. Explaining a border to Border Guard personnel. Not an everyday task.
Among other tasks for the day was fitting a window into the new sauna. Normaly windows are there to give the room some light and even a view but not in this case. Plywood outside the window will make sure that autumn storms will not break the glass. This will only be a temporary solution. A new and stronger window should be arriving shortly. But even a blocked window can have ”a view”.
Which one is better? A question of taste.
We had also been asked to think up a way to fasten the sauna door as at the moment there is no mechanism to do the task. As it often is, the old fashioned solution turned out to be the most easy and reliable one
Now the sun is slowly starting to set and it is time to clean up and maybe have a cup of tea. There is still some of the pastry left! Not much but some.
Until tomorrow then.
What a beautiful morning. It just is so great to wake up to the sun shining into the room. And it turned out that today was a summer day all day long. No more of yesterday's showers, sun, wind, rainbows, more showers.... No, a real summer day with mild winds, lots of sun and just enough clouds to make the sky look interesting. Although it was quite interesting yesterday as well, but in a very different way.
As we all know, life here is not only about repairing the lighthouse, building something or feasting on the beauty of the sea. It is also about everyday things that keep us going. Food is one of the most important things here. Especially when it is good food and up to now that is all we have had this week. Here is dinner on it's way.
And after a meal, we have to wash the dishes. Luckily in one of the most beautiful places possible to do that.
And once the dishes are clean it is time to make sure that we are as clean. In Finland this often means heating the sauna. Here is Mikko-Oskari lighting the stove-
Nature is never far in a place like this. All day long we have had the chance of seeing lots of birds. Many of them are already on their way south. In addition to birds we have quite a few small friends of a different kind. I have no idea how many of these small insects there are on the island, but lets say a million. At least that is what it feels like. Luckily they do not bite or sting you but still having them all around your face, eyes, ears... is not my idea of fun.
The good thing is that whenever there is any wind (and this is the case almost all the time here) these small insects take cover behind the walls or the rocks. And we humans can breath more easily.
Now it is time to go out and enjoy the heat of the sauna. Until tomorrow.
I know I told you yesterday, that it was a beautiful day, but today outdid it by far. This could have been mid July. The only thing that was different was the temperature of the sea water, which did not tempt us to go swimming in the sea.
Even though it was very difficult to do so, we did manage to get ourselves to work. There are still a few things undone on our to-do list, one of which is painting the beds in the bedroom. Marika has experience in painting and thus she was the obvious choice for this job. This is her at work.
But to be honest, a day like this could not be wasted on work alone. In the afternoon we took Marika (our only first timer) for a guided tour of the island. One would think that there is not that much to see on such a small island, but I can assure you that there is.
Among other things, there a numerous little ponds with beautiful reflections of the sun, small bubbles and water plants in various shades of green. And all around us the sea. That was quite enough for us today.
After the tour, we had our coffee break out on the terasse and then back to reality and the rest of todays quota of work. Not too much left, but enough to keep us occupied.
Another day gone and we all feel quite tired. And it is not even nine yet. So good night everyone out there.
My trip to Märket was really a quick call. Everything happened in only four days. The next crew was lacking one person and this person could also be a first timer. This email-search had my name written all over it so I grabbed my chances.
Instead of four days you could also say that I´ve been heading for this trip to a lighthouse all my adult life. The sea is my inner landscape even though even when living in Helsinki I often forget the fact, that I´m living by the sea. This summer, celebrating the Midsummer day I followed one lithuanian tradition of writing down three wishes on the piece of paper and burning it on the bonfire. This action would guarantee your wishes to come true. My first wish was the sea and the second was the wind. So you could say that the spell worked like perfection for me.
But really... I had no clue where I was heading...During the last night I was still checking if I should have my passport with me or not and what the local currency might be. Luckily after hearing Heikki´s laid back and warm voice via phone I was assured that I will be in good hands. And I was companied with these two pros. I´ve even learned a bunch of new tricks: like folding the omelett in a professional style, creating a knot that holds and lots of other practical things about the sea, sky and nature here.This isle shaped bruise (created by our landing in the very first day) I will also bring with me home as a souvenir.
Like Heikki put it this morning, it is incredible how three so different kind of blokes can get along so well. At times the isolation here feels really concrete. It is almost like having a parallel time and reality here, just three of us. The weather here changes quickly, and it is, of course, also part of the attraction. Beside of other daily duties I´ve also been scouting the rocks in means of finding a hidden treasure or at least a letter in a bottle. This feather treasure was only borrowed for a moment in order to create this new horizon.
We have also made some observations of a new species, but it´s still too early to tell what is the right category for this one. Today we tried to lure it out again with our Thursday menu: pea soup and Mikko-Oskari´s pancake with some Åland twist. The pancake with whipped cream and rasberry-jam disappeared from the plate quickly, but otherwise we didn´t find a trace ... It appears to have a sweet tooth though.
The following words just came to me after spending some time here:
This reality here
takes its place
This reality where,
everything can be measured,
be counted by my steps
The white chalk border on the ground
marking what is mine,
what is yours
transforming into alive
waterline of the sea
the eternity is present
reclaiming its place
where ever I look
The longing travels with me
and here the darkness
without any notice
The pulsing light behind
and front of me
Two lighthouses communicating
---- - ---- - ---- - ----- - -----
---- - ---- - ---- - ----- - -----
repeating their same sentences
Only inside the strict borders
your mind can
become the sea
The boundaries and boundlessness where also equally present while laying on the cliffs watching the nightsky. During this long exposure time Mikko-Oskari came down to wash his teeth, I went up to get my scarf and also the stars continued silently their way.
Sleep tight! Marika (sharing her first Märket-experience), Heikki and Mikko-Oskari
Our last (planned) day on the island and a good one at that. A nice brisk southernly wind, a blue sky with only a few clouds and quite warm for this time of year. A good day to get all the little loose ends tied up, enjoy the island and start to mentaly prepare oneself for the upcoming return to ”the normal world”.
What did the above mean in practical terms? Well, for one thing it meant tidying up the areas we had worked in. For example some old and somewhat broken bricks were arranged into this handsome pile.
It also meant taking those ”must have” photos that had not been taken yet. The artist in Marika awoke and this resulted in her taking a red chair for a long walk around the island. The chair was the top model of the day with (just guessing here) hundreds of pictures of it being taken in all possible locations.
Marika was not the only one taking pictures though. Here is one shot from the upstairs bedroom around sunrise time.
Of course all the paperwork had to be done as well, but I will not bore you with that part. Lets just say that this part of Märket life is not a major burden. Has to be done though!
We got a call from Matts and at the moment it seems as though we should be able to leave the island as planned. Or at least most of us. There will apparently be a large group of tourists coming tomorrow and Mikko-Oskari will stay behind for a few extra hours to help the new team with the guided tour.
One thing many of us on this island appreciate is the power of nature. It can polish granite, move large stones and grow out of a small crack in a stone. It is something to admire. I found this little plant growing on a vertical rock in a crack no larger than a pen.
Tomorrow morning we will give the place a quick clean up and then hopefuly head for home. It has been a great week. Thanks to all of us doing what we can to make it special.
Marika, Mikko-Oskari and Heikki
Week 36: Marika, Mikko-Oskari and Heikki