060908 Winds of change
Today it was the time for yet another changing of the guards. We, Ilja and Seija (the new ones) arrived at Märket at about 12 o´clock with two ålanders (henceforth by the name "tin-men") coming to do some work on the tin roof of the shed. We found Mikko and Jouni labouring hard on these rocky cliffs.
Seija is the veteran of the new group with a vast experience of Märket, having already spent two separate week-long sessions here. I am, on the contrary, a complete novice to the place. But pretty quickly, I imagine, will these corners become familiar to me.
The day rolled on with no spectacles, the tin-men on the roof, us getting acquainted to the island and the upcoming chores, Mikko and Jouni part-time instructing us, part -time finishing their work - such as, for example, building a new sawing support.
All important places have now been shown to us, and we know where to wait for the return of the seal Mikko and Jouni saw a couple of days ago. As for myself, the possibility of seeing such a creature in its natural habitat is a real treat.
And nature did almost immediately present itself to us - this time in the form of a little bird who had found its way inside the lighthouse but was then unable to grasp the concept of exiting. He flew around chirping with desperation, so Mikko had to - routinely, as one could realize - trap him inside a blanket and help him to his freedom. Here, such episodes seem take place quite regularly.
The dinner was thought to be held as a barbeque feast outside. But as one can imagine, a shower of rain prevented this from happening. Thus the barbequing was finished in the wood-shed and the food consumed inside. Surprisingly quickly after our grand meal with the tin-men, the boat came to fetch everybody - except us. We were left to ourselves, expecting the upcoming adventures of the week.
Over and out for today. - Ilja
070908 Working and a crusade
Our first full day at the lighthouse. We woke up almost as scheduled, even though we both took the opportunity to go out wondering the previous night. At night-time, the sleeping quarters are pitch-black, so bumping around whilst grasping for the torch is almost inevitable. Outside the blackness is lessened by not only our dear Märket light but also by dozens of passing ship-lights and other nearby lighthouses. The black and velvet sea with those twinkling lights, almost like stars, makes up for a unforgettable sight.
After the breakfast (prepared by Ilja) designed to break fats (ha) and dishwashing (done by Seija) we started working.
During the day, the rails of the lighthouse stairwell were scraped clean for the new paintjob and the windows got back their original hooks which had been temporarily replaced by clumsy screw-and-wire-gadgets. So immensed were we by the labouring that we even forgot to take the pre-lunch coffee break - a mistake carefully taken back in the afternoon.
In the afternoon Ilja also made an attempt to defiantly battle the sea with the lighthouse life-boat sporting a mighty engine. This crusade was torpedoed by the surprisingly strong waves and the fact that the engine wasn´t all that easy to handle. So back to the harbour it was, no damage done - none except a blow to Ilja´s self-confidence as a maritimer. Meanwhile Seija was taking a stroll on the rocks and managed to spot an eagle; unfortunately it flew at too great a distance to allow itself to be photographed.
The forecast for today was "showers of rain". Luckily for us, meteorologists aren´t omniscient: the sun, definitely an expected visitor, revealed itself at noon. We were able to bask in the sunlight, at times even while working. The sun really enchances the colours of the island: especially the yellow shapes on the rocks created by patches of mould (or whatever) stand out beautifully.
That´s all for today, until tomorrow:
Seija & Ilja
080908 September Rain
Monday: rain, what else? From the early morning on it was clear that the day was not going to be clear. The sun shone on us through a milky veil and a little later, the September rain started. And that way the weather was all day. We are a bit disappointed that these rains don´t come as real storms with giant waves: that would give them an exciting edge. In their present form they just paint the landscape and seascape brown. But all this is, of course, a part of the experience. Still, we are silently hoping for a storm to fall upon us.
With this kind of weather, it is needless to expect the arrival of any visitors. So we concentrated on the daily chores. Seija took care of the cleaning activities and providing us subsistence for the day, whilst Ilja tackled the challenge left to us by Mikko & Jouni, the carpenter masters from the week previous: painting the new bed in the shed. This went on as planned, only that during the painting it became clear that there wasn´t going to be enough paint left for the second layer. If we don´t get any refills this week (which is almost certainly the case), finishing off the job has to be left for our followers. Hope they will bring some paint.
Another part of the Mikko’s and Jouni’s legacy was also fulfilled, as Seija managed to spot a seal at the same premises our predecessors had. Whether or not this was the same one, it is hard to tell. Anyway, when Ilja was called to witness the sight, the tricky animal was gone.
Later this afternoon, Seija continued a chore which had been left unfinished since her last time here. This was, of course: scraping off the old paint from the first floor ceiling. Ilja also got acquainted with this delightful experience; it is a messy, slow, difficult and exhausting job, and it is no wonder that the previous crews facing it found more urgent things to take care of. Well, our arm muscles needed the training anyway - we hope.
Our meals consist mainly of what other people have left here - such as the two fish in the freezer, caught by the crew two weeks ago, to be eaten tomorrow; or the astonishing amount of carrots found in the bottom locker of the fridge. Using even half of them during the week will prove a challenge for our culinary imagination.
All in all, today was nothing special - which is not to say it wasn´t a great one. ´Til tomorrow.
Seija & Ilja
090908 Breaking Waves - And Walls
It keeps getting ever colder - and windier. The average temperature of today was somewhere about twelve degrees celsius, and it blew constantly with small showers of rain. This made dish-washing a real challenge for Ilja, as half of the time was spent chasing runaway brushes, stools and such. Spending time outside is really refreshing, but one is in constant danger of freezing or getting soaked by the surprisingly high waves, especially as they break on the northern shore. Still - one cannot say that this weather didn´t create its own kind of charmfulness.
Work today was of the type interior & dusty. Both of us spent some time doing our favourite thing: scraping the first floor ceiling. (By the way, the interesting design of the building generates confusion: since the entrance is technically on the second floor - due to the ladder - the cellar is actually the ground floor, and the ground floor the second! Did anyone else have conceptual problems with this?) In addition to the scraping, Ilja discovered a new type of activity - one involving a crowbar and a sledgehammer... So off to dismantling the old wooden walls of the cellar sauna it was. Breaking stuff in the darkness was fun - as one can easily imagine.
A million thanks to those generous people who caught the fish two weeks ago and left it in the freezer - it was delicious. A million thanks also to the last week’s crew for choosing to save this treat for us. The only setback was that we couldn´t prepare it outside, on a charcoal fire; that would have been as close to perfect as it gets.
Finally, a seal was seen on the western shore, sticking its curious head periodically out of the water. Great! Now we know these things are not a legend created by imaginative storytelling and meticulous photoshopping.
With the wind howling in the corners, it is time to go to sleep.
Seija & Ilja
100908 Mushroom Hunting
Another day without a storm. (Sigh.) But due to the decreasing temperature and strong nothern winds, Ilja was forced to move his bed to the supposedly warmer kitchen. (Seija has all this time had her quarters happily in the upstairs room.) This change was to the effect that he overslept for about half an hour, and woke up to frenzily make coffee and porridge.
This is not to say that we would be in any kind of hurry. On the contrary - work is not so plentiful anymore, since one cannot spend the whole day scraping the ceiling; that would be too big a strain on the neck muscles. Still, Seija did this for a couple of hours, while Ilja finished breaking the rest of the old shower room to pieces and transporting the wood and insulation materials to the shed.
We heard from Ville yesterday that the inside railing requires a special heavy duty paint ("panssarimaali", in case someone is wondering), that we presently don´t have. This apparently means that the paintwork on the rails has to be relegated to our followers. On the other hand, the painting of the bed isn´t as necessary as we thought: Mikko & Jouni, the constructors, informed us that a second layer is not crucial. Thank you boys! We reckon it is now up to the next week´s crew to decide.
For lunch, we decided it was appropriate to stick to the possibilities offered by the season. And since it is autumn, we sent out to find mushrooms. It was a tough call, but in the end, we managed to scrape enough together to make a nice sauce. Those mushrooms really hid themselves well - luckily we finally understood to scan the kitchen as well: there they were squatting, in tins on the kitchen shelf...
No rain today. Since there are no more stroms to be expected, we hope that the sun will shine tomorrow. Goodbye for now.
Seija & Ilja
110908 Light Returning
The sun returned! Seija was up already at 6.30 to catch the first crimson rays of the rising sun. This was not the case for Ilja, who slept peacefully until an hour later, to be happily suprised by the bright light flooding in.
Because of the good weather and lack of activities, the day was spent walking around the rocks and basking in the sunshine. Of course some work was also done in the morning, with Seija continuing the ever so pleasant scraping and Ilja clearing the cellar of all pieces of stray wood, plaster and miscanellous debris still left there.
A couple of days ago we decided to lower the flag as a precaution, since the winds were so strong we weren´t sure whether or not it was going to stay intact, being already a bit worn and all. Today we were able to bring it back.
A few calls with Pekka confirmed that the next crew was arriving saturday at eight am and that we´d have an hour or so to hold the briefing. So, we thought, it´s going to be a slow-paced morning. But later on this afternoon we were informed that a group of guests was arriving already at six! So tomorrow it´s preparations for leaving and early bedtime. But tonight we still have some time to look at the stars.
Seija & Ilja
120908 Last sunset, first visitors coming!
Tonight is, sadly, the time for our last report. Tomorrow it will be an early departure (and an even earlier wake-up), so that we will arrive in Eckerö before noon, so no time for writing then. After the six-o´clock-visit of the four people from Rauma, our post will be taken over by Jussi and his friend (whose name is still a mystery to us).
Briefly said, a morning packed with activities. This means that now is the time for the last musings on the shoreline, the watching of the last sunset and other similarly sentimental activities.
Today was surprisingly short. After wake-up we discovered that the inside railings, to be painted next week, were not scraped as clean as they should have been.
Finishing them off took the first few hours of the morning. Rest of the day was spent cleaning up, making lists of the remaining food (which wasn´t much) and other last-day activities.
Ilja had to boost his confidence for the upcoming transports from the Rauma people´s sailing ship to the shore, so he took a trip to the buoy and back. This time it was the oars he chose as the means of locomotion - and everything went even more smoothly than he had expected. Seija´s patient bird-watching sessions were in turn rewarded by several pictures of a passing eagle.
It has definitely been an experience staying here, and it will most likely be a shocking experience to return to our "normal" urban life with its own hectic pace; to beonce again subjected to the abundant visual and auditory stimuli of the city.
During the writing of this, something we had been waiting for all week happened: two seals appeared on the islet west of us, a black silhouette against the orange dusk. They wanted to bid us goodbye, of course. What else?
Thanks for the week, Märket. We´ll hopefully be back, someday not too distant.
Seija & Ilja
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060908 Winds of change