Saturday 25.8.2007 - As if someone was humming psalms
So the morning arrived with winds from the West, which made the lighthouse keepers a little unsure whether the new crew could arrive or not.
But we did and managed even to come ashore after a nice prove of seamanship from our captain Bengt.
The trip over from Eckerö was certainly a jumpy one, but we all enjoyed it anyway. What a boat, that Felicia! With us we had five visitors, Anna from Lemland, Mathias from Eckerö, Anni and Juha from Vehmaa and Wolfgang from Germany.
They all took a tour around Märket with Maija, while Anna Emilia and Sari explained us newcomers everything we need to know about the gear, the Märket-shop and the rowing boat.
Unfortunately, we were all so busy with the change of crew that we completely forgot to take a picture of our visitors and even the old crew leaving. Shame on us!
We can only assure all you readers that this miss could happen only because we were, and are so stunned of the beauty and peace of this place!
Stunning yellow fields of Märket
After waving goodbye to Felicia, we started our work with cleaning and fixing the fridge, handy ladies that we are! We even made a tour to the cellar and then enjoyed a lovely meal of potatoes, herring and black bread of Åland while Brando, the lighthouse dog, was fishing in one of the many lagoons on the island.
Brando is showing how a person - or a dog - survives on a deserted island.
The wind has calmed down now, and it seems that we will be able to enjoy a very beautiful evening and just breath in this place.
Pirjo is learning the basics of the reef.
While sitting outside the lighthouse, I could swear I heard somebody singing - even Pirjo heard a mans voice later. Is it the spirit of the old lighthouse workers that we heard humming psalms, or maybe sirens on the seal reef or just the wind blowing on the North wall?
Minna-Lotta and Märket over and out
Sunday 26.8.2007 - Last Sunday in August
After a very calm and sunny summer evening, the three of us tired newcomers decided to go sleeping well before it got dark. There was the moon, almost full, no wind, no rain, everything was more than ok, just perfect!
During the night the wind shifted direction, and got steadily stronger. I knew that we could lose the precious old tyres used as fenders, but in darkness there was too much risk trying to save them.
At 6 o'clock, the Northern harbour was already ferocely beaten by huge waves, and water was flooding across the reef.
Awesome! After a nice morning coffee watching the waves, I walked around with my camera. To my big surprise, I found one tyre and managed to pick it with a hook. It's now placed high enough, safe from the waves.
Lotta has been the machinist, cashier and dishwasher of the day. She started the Honda generator just like that, as she had done that for a thousand times before.
Brando and Honda supervising the actions of Minna-Lotta.
So the phone battery is now really full charged.
Minna-Lotta also made the table for our Sunday lunch quite stylish with the table cloth on.
I've been the main chef, water master and laundry mum. When it was raining, I also organised myself a nice warm 'bath' today, but won't tell how.
Back to yesterday still, as all other guards, we also spent time exploring the attic. That is an amazing museum of old things, light bulbs, working clothes, furniture, magazines, and for the most a huge amount of books.
The ministry has also taken care of lighthouse keepers cultural needs by delivering books.
In the old days, there was loads to read on Märket.
We haven't had any human visitors today, perhaps because of the heavy wind and the coming autumn. In general, there has been no problems, only a few interesting challenges.
This camp style simple life seems to fit us well. Tonight, a big mug of hot chocolate with a hint of dark rum will crown the menu.
Monday 27.8.2007 - Little white spot running
The wind has still been keeping us company through the whole day. A couple of small thunder storms have passed by, and yesterday evening we even found the end of the rainbow right here on Märket.
The wonderland Märket in this end.
We've had no visitors today, of obvious weather related reasons. Pirjo has been working hard chopping some wood, and even Brando the lighthouse dog has been preparing for some serious work.
Work well planned is half done.
Before we arrived, I was wondering how a very active terrier like Brando would get enough exercise on the reef. So far there has been no problem at all, he runs around for hours chasing swallows that apparently tease him by flying very close and then high up again away from his reach.
A dog marathon has begun.
Even we humans get a lot of exercise walking up and down the 65 steps of the lighthouse. It really gets on your thighs, which, of course, might be a good thing considering the amount of chocolate and bisquits we are (well, I am) consuming. Luckily, I even get an extra dose of exercise because of my job as a private elevator.
Brando waits for the elevator.
Hey, let's be careful, shall we?
We have been keen on getting some serious work done today, but since the previous group finished the windows that were "under construction", we weren't quite sure what to continue with. As writing this, we are waiting for further instructions from the window expert Angela, and hope to be able to get on with the work later today.
Meanwhile, we've been exploring all the different little corners of the lighthouse, and found something very sweet in a little closet on the attic.
The tiny ones that were born here have already flown out - luckily the window was a bit open.
Another great treasure we found is growing in the compost. Someone will get some new potatoes soon!
Is this the beginning of self suffiency on the reef?
It seems that now, after three days, even our souls have arrived and settled down on the reef. All this space wakes up a lot of thoughts - it is hard not to love this place. I wonder if the people living here earlier loved this place, too, or maybe hated it in the end?
How was it to leave Märket for the very last time? Was this Home, or was Home somewhere else? Does one get addicted to being separated from the rest of the world on a lighthouse? Or did they think about it at all? Was it just work?
Or maybe it was like working out on a boat - that you could only stay on land for a certain time, before the urge of sailing out again would come and force you to leave?
As someone of the previous lighthouse keepers wrote, you easily develop an obsessive relationship to windows out here. There is something about the beauty of windows that makes it impossible to stop staring at them, again and again in different lights.
The art of architecture, the normal windows only lasted five years at the beginning in the 1800s.
As the weather report tells us there is a possibility for storm tomorrow, we won’t wait for any visitors. But it is nice to know that you are all out there - you are, aren't you?
Minna-Lotta on the behalf of the rest of the crew - Märket over and out.
Tuesday 28.8.2007 - Sacrifices to the first autumn storm
We've had a nice real autumn storm here! The wind speed exceeded 20 m/s since before noon. Wind is blowing from the North West, turning slightly towards North.
Both the lighthouse guards and the Lighthouse Society's flag resist the first autumn storm on Märket.
Massive waves have been rolling over the reef. High waves smashed against the North side wall, pushing water into the Duck Pond. Some waves threw water even over the wall!
All new soil is now gone from the Swedish side, as was bound to happen. Sorry for your loss, Gardners!
Life is hard for plants in the middle of the sea. RIP.
Unfortunately, the camera phone got lost from its zipperless pocket, so we can't share the storm scenes with you as photographs. Maybe later we share the shots taken with our cameras.
[From the webmaster: the data phone was damaged by water. Nevertheless, we could manage to get the photos from ordinary cell phones. Sorry about the poor quality, but they are authentic.]
A couple of more descriptions about the strength of the wind and the waves: The wind was about to throuw down the woods placed on the warehouse broken tin roof. The waves swept even over the helicopter landing place.
In weather like this it's safest to stay in. We've been very lucky, as the wind is not blowing this hard from the front side of the lighthouse.
Our biggest efforts today have been dragging the dinghy into the warehouse with help of a rolling birch log and starting the generator. Those jobs both are traditionally 'men’s work', because of the strength needed.
Safeguard for the little red dinghy. Nice work, ladies!
We managed them with our experience and female wit. The main interest has been shooting ziljon pictures of the storm. Brando the lighthouse dog has not been outdoors today, as he could have gone with the wind.
It's raining and hailing now, the wind is still going strong and that is the forecast also for tomorrow.
Pirjo, the Lighthouse Master, on behalf of 2 + 1
Wednesday 29.8.2007 - Did the frogs survive the storm
I must start with an apology. Because it was me who lost the phone. I am sorry!
We were out saving the boat and taking pictures of the enormous waves. I had my own camera, too, and, suddenly, I just realized that the phone was gone! The storm being as it was yesterday, the phone has probably reached Gotland by now. Or at least Hammarland.
These waves took away our phone, bye bye.
So there were some stormy winds yesterday. The whole Finnish side of the reef (except for the very spot where the lighthouse is) was under water. Huge waves were sweeping over 2/3 of the Swedish side.
The biggest waves even got over the Northern wall. It must be amazing out here when the wind gets faster than 25m/s!
The previous group of lighthouse keepers told us about two frogs they'd seen. How did they get here?! I hope they moved into the warehouse before the storm, surely they didn't make it otherwise.
There was even a full moon yesterday. I had hoped that we could climb up to the top of the lighthouse with some hot chocolate, maybe even some Lumumba, and a nice warm blanket and enjoy the show.
Unfortunately, the storm made it impossible. Just one calm night up by the light and this stay has been perfect! (Well, I still dream about swimming in the green lagoon. Right now there is no lagoon. It has been swallowed by the sea.)
Since the wind has calmed down, only 11m/s today, we've been able to get some work done. We have carried all the tools up to the lighthouse, taken down the tent (where we found some ladies’ underwear - so if anyone of the old guards is missing her panties, they are here), emptied the loo (which was a bit of a challenge since almost all the soil is gone..) and started a very important part of building a door to the warehouse - planning!
Pirjo is planning how to arrange the door.
Pirjo even dried all the wet blankets she could find out in the wind. Plans for tonight include a warm bath, or as warm as we can arrange out here.
An attempt to dry out the blankets - it is very moist on the reef in general.
Brando the lighthouse dog has been able to go out again, and even chase some birds. Earlier today we had a visit by a seal, and it strike me how happy one can get just by seeing one of these rubbery, round heads sticking up from the water. Amazing!
From Märket on the 5th evening of our visit, Minna-Lotta over and out.
Thursday 30.8.2007 - Hoping for a helicopter and some bubbles
The morning wind from NW is gusty, temperature +12. No summer holiday weather today!
But yesterday afternoon it still was like summer on the South side of the boat hatch. There was no cold wind, the rock was warm, the sun was shining. The waves were just playing around the reef, like boys playing soft American football, bouncing against, under or over each other.
So I had my afternoon siesta there, on the rock, watching and listening to the waves playing their game.
As one result of the storm, we had many private swimming pools on the cliffs. The water in those was so bright! The pools even had a continuos water changing system, in and out.
We didn't make company for all the trapped small fish swimming in those. The hot barrel bath was far more tempting for Minna-Lotta, on the Southern 'beach'.
This morning two seals played their game on the South side. Maybe they were a bit curious about the strange red moving object on the rock, as they came quite close to peep at me many times. Then they vanished, maybe to better hunting lands.
See, now we even have separate paragraphs in this story! That's because only now I'm learning the numerous features of my beautiful phone, as I get real use out of those.
I didn't even have the email in use before I loaded the settings in here. Just in time, before the SMS phone got grabbed by the storm. Big, big thanks to the Nokia people and old colleagues for this Very Beautiful and also Practical phone!
Our mission for today was to build a door for the boat house. Mission accomplished, time to celebrate!
The new door from the right.
We sketched a simple traditional construction plan, with measures and material consumption estimate.
The new door from the left.
The inventory of the available material was ok. Then first version done, a little more tuning, and we had it tight in place. There are not much holes for snow to get in, so the boat has a safe place for the winter.
There is already snow in Lapland, which is very unusual. So far we've only had rain and hailing.
The sea is now most of the time too rough for the boats. We're not sure if changing shift is possible before Sunday, if even then.
Therefore it would be really nice to get visitors from the Coast Guard or Board Patrol with their bigger vessel, or with the helicopter. I've got my helicopter ear plugs with me, just in case I get a homebound lift ride!?
The sun is shining and the wind seems to be slowing down by night. This may be our last evening here. It's about time for Bubbles to celebrate the New Door! - and maybe some outdoor bath bubbles for me.
Pirjo, Lotta och Brando
Friday 31.8.2007 - Harmony like grandmother's kitchen
When I was a little girl I often visited my grandparents. The radio was always on and my grandmother carefully listened to the news and weather reports, and gladly hummed to her favourite music.
There was a deep feeling of peace and safety, as there usually is in every grandmother’s home. Three, four times a day there was a weather report for the sea areas. I listened to it fascinated by the exotic names of beautiful faraway places like Kylmäpihlaja, Jussarö and Bogaskär.
I had no idea what the magic names and numbers like "Nyhamn 11 South-South-West 5, 30" meant, but surely something secret and important since it was read at the radio very carefully and with a very serious voice several times a day.
Later, when life brought me to live by the sea with a man who thought me how to sail, I learned more about these magic places and got to visit some of them. Märket, that doesn’t sound like the most exiting of them all, has proved to be more magic than I deared to dream of.
Once one gets settled on this rocky reef and has time to feel and look around, one finds out that the peace and harmony is like in the grandmother’s kitchen. The light varies in amazing colours and the shapes and directions of the waves changes for every time they hit the reef, or softly strokes the rocky beaches.
The weather reports on the radio get as important as ever, and one gets this very special feeling of importance, when the voice in the radio says "Märket, 14, West-North-West 3".
After wondering about the weather and winds for a couple of days, it was decided today that the change of crew will happen this afternoon. Knowing this, we all prepared us the best we could. We did the dishes, cleaned the stairs, counted the amount of supplies to be needed, and packed our bags.
Pirjo even did the laundry!
The lighthouse dog seemed to know more than we did, since he wouldn't let himself to be fooled to take too much effort
Brando knows best.
And right he was, since it very soon was announced that the swap will not take place until September. Happy, since we had already finished the packing and done all the hard work like carrying the dinghy out from the boathouse, we decided to spent the rest of the day just enjoyng ourselves, watching our new friends seals playing in the water and counting the boats passing by.
While we were doing the dishes, we found another friend sadly sitting in a pond of water on the yard.
Poor little thing feels a bit dizzy.
Her feathers were wet and it seemed that her first flying rehearsals didn't turn out all that well. We placed her up on the roof of the warehouse, and after a couple of hours she was gone. I can't tell if she is one of the ones flying above me right now, but I do hope so.
As the evening approaches, so does the clouds from the West. It soon is time for the evening supper, and even the last weather reports for the day.
We salute all the old lighthouse keepers and send our regards to the guards that have spent time on Märket this summer. You all know the mixed feeling of happiness, respect, peace and longing that easily gets you on your, for now, last night in the lighthouse. Luckily you know that you are welcome back - there is still a lot of work to be done.
Until next time: Märket over and out.
Someone is at home.