Blog 7 Lake Vattern 24 June - 2015
Natural harbours Hjortholmen and Grönön. Askersund
A few days later and out of the canal for a while into Lake Vattern. After some pretty luxurious facilities in the marinas along the canal and the bustling civilisation at each stop, the peace and beauty of two natural harbours on islands within the lake made a change in pace. Safely protected by the bay within the island, it wraps around in almost a complete circle of trees and smooth round rocks which slip into the water and out of sight below. At Hjortholmen our stern anchor held the boat just away from the granite rock shore and the bow ladder stepped down onto firm land where we warped to a tree on either side. The water was motionless as glass except for an occasional feeding fish setting up ever expanding rings as it broke the surface. Come evening, the only other boat in the pool had silently left and we lay in total silence watching the evening light change very slowly to that buttery yellow, then a rose blush and as the sun went down at well after 10pm it was still warm but becoming cooler by the minute and an almost spiritual quiet hung over everything and the blues and the dim light began to wash away the last of the pink sky and I felt a sense of suspension in space.
A day or so later, up at the northernmost reaches of the lake we moor in a lovely little town called Askersund. Far up the head of the lake edged by low lying meadows passing beautiful rural scenery and wonderful old farm buildings, winding through narrow passages which open into lakes themselves - lakes within a lake - until the road bridge at the marina. The huge brick church from 1661 after the previous one was burnt to the ground and inside the most exquisite Flemish wood carved panels on the altar screen and on a ridiculously baroque pulpit contrasting absolutely with the plain white puritan church interior. Bob and Marcia dined us superbly in the Norra Vattern hotel by the harbour, crayfish and the lightest of lamb to perfection. A torrential rain storm passed over while we ate and strung out the finale until it had stopped before we dared return to Talisman wearing only light evening clothes and not prepared for rain.
In the morning, walking out of the town over the road bridge towards the extensive farmland beyond, a vast crowd of lupins grew wild along the roadside verge in a surprising display of mauves, pinks and blues, they seem to be common roadside flowers here. The farm buildings, some huge, are long wooden constructions made of rough planks painted in that blood red earth colour with doors and window frames picked out in white and wearing a patina of age and echoes of a peasant life. Some of the earlier buildings, possibly from the 19th C, are built with traditional cabin style rough sawn timbers crossing at the corners typically used by pioneers of the Wild West many of whom were from Sweden where wood has always been one of the most important elements of life.
Beside each painted timber house, waiting for the winter, there is a huge, neat log pile layed in intricate interlocking fashion like some art installation just asking to be viewed, considered and questioned as to what it means, how it was done, and capturing the eye of observer. Almost too precious to break apart and burn.
Another surprise emerged from tall seeding grasses - incongruously for such a rural location - a storage yard for workers in marble, where massive slabs of polished marble stood stacked against fixed metal frames. The colour changes and crystalline formations and prehistoric patterns revealed in the highly polished surface absolutely mesmerise. It was a wonder and an adventure to move from one surface to another, gasping at the infinite possibilities of creation and beginning a discussion of the earthly processes involved from the beginning of time.
Cybele had caught us up and moored alongside - we talked, long in to the evening, of the last few days experiences and exchanged views on anchorages and bays and a new technique for safely stepping on to steep slippery rocky mounds in natural harbours. This morning, against all forecasts, it was raining hard and a crash of thunder made it seem sensible to put any electronic gadgets into the oven as protection, and Pirate our French black cat neighbour removed himself from his cushioned throne in the cockpit to the safe interior to sit out the storm. A double rainbow appeared as the sun broke through and the colours of the town and the sky stood in stark contrast.