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Summer work

For July I have almost a total break from my massge work. I only work three hours a week. But there has been a small heap of unpaid bills on the corner of my desk, so seems like I can't quite afford a proper summer holiday this year. Luckily enough I haven't felt myself very exhausted, and I have this optimistic feeling of things will work out. For my summer work I've spent more time at the office of the mill, listening to their needs, adding new features to their software suite.

Earlier this week Sami came for a short visit. He had other duties for the daytime, so we had social time after the working hours. Sauna, food, a rowing trip, and generally just discussing the future plans for UnReal World. On Wednesday my friends at the neigbouring farm were putting up dry hay in small bales. After my work I went to the field to help with the last few loads of hay. A bunch of local teenagers have been doing their summer work at the farm, and they were all busy working an evening shift at they hayfield. I've always liked the atmosphere of working together putting up hay. Somehow, background, age nor political opinions don't count, for working on the field we are all equal and united by the common task. People of different skills and abilities get tasks according to their capabilities, and the young ones are often given an opportunity to learn and to gain more resposibility as their skills increase.

Last Friday I only had a few hours of work late in the evening. So on Thursday after work I packed basic camping equipment and rowed to the nearby island. I set up a fish trap near the island, as there is a spot which sometimes has yielded a good catch of perches. On the island I started a fire and grilled a meal. I set up a hammock and went to relax, waiting to fall asleep. I had a sleeping bag, but it was so warm that I left the zipper open. I had brought a woolen blanket, I used it to cover the hammock hoping that would keep the mosquites out. What comes to the mosquitoes, the blanket did work - but it wasn't quite optimal, for I felt uncomfortably hot hiding under the blanket. Finally after midnight the air cooled down a little and I slept sound.

In the morning I again started a fire to cook some coffee. I went to have a morning swim, and it was very refreshing. I sat down to drink the coffee and watch the scenery. It was very peaceful, all calm winds and no other boats out on the lake. Only sign of human activity was a distant hum of farm machines, otherwise it was an occasional call of a loon or a common gull. I packed my stuff and rowed to check the fish trap. I was happy to see that there were a few decent-sized perches, worth a days meal. Back at home I harvested some fresh potatoes and cooked them together with the fish.

Saturday - no work for the weekend, and we are hit by a heat wave. Living on a homestead means that there always is plenty of things waiting to be done - gardening, preparing for the winter, fixing this and mending that. But I decided that today I'll leave all those things for another day. So instead I set up a hammock under the big oak in my yard. Earlier I've had the hammock between the oak and an old apple tree - but last autumn the old apple tree fell down, so this year I had to find an another solution. I decided to tie a rope to one of the corner posts of a storage shed. And next to that corner of the shed there was a wooden stand I once needed for the main fuse box. As, the fuse box is installed on the outer wall of my house, and when I wanted to renovate the siding on the walls, the fuse box needed to be mounted on a temporary stand. And when I was finished with the walls and the fuse box got back to its proper place, I stored the stand, thinking that one day it would make a good support structure for an archery target. I felt that today is that one day. So I adjusted the stand, attached a piece of plywood onto it, and tied a few old sofa cushions on top of the plywood.

Earlier in the spring Sami gave me a set of arrows, and since then I've been wishing to resume my archery practice just for the fun of it. I have a composite recurve bow made by a Hungarian master bow maker. I strung the bow and started shooting from only a five metres away from the target, for I don't want to lose my arrows and I wouldn't be surprised to see my aim being a lot off after more than then years of not shooting a bow. I was delighed to see that the bow was still all OK. The downside is that my bow is rather strong one, and a lighter bow would be better for resuming regular practice. A strong bow quickly wears down my muscle power, decreasing the accuracy. Well, but I felt happy about having set up the hammock and the archery practice target - both things that have been waiting on that notorious one day I'd like to do-list.

For a moment I relaxed in the hammock, listening to music and slowly sipping a shot of rum. Then I wanted to try if I can make a simple bow for practice. I have been storing a tall splinter of spruce tree I once found in the woods. A thunder bolt had hit the spruce, making short and tall splinters break apart. Such pieces have been believed to carry a bit of (magical) power of a thunder storm, and they have been used for bows. For some six or seven years I've been storing one of those splinters, hoping that one day I can make a bow out of it. Now I examined it - it was long enough for two bows, and only slightly curved. I cut the splinter in two. Using a small hatchet and a knife I started shaping a piece to have a form of a bow. Unluckily, there were small chambers of sap, and tiny internal fractures in the structure of the timber. So, after a few tests the other blade of my new bow cracked and broke. I tried again with the other piece, but got the same result. Then it came to my mind that I still have a make-shift bow we once crafted with Sami, out of a single branch of a spruce tree. When I was a kid we always used spruce branches for making bows, as they are almost straight, and make a simple bow with only a minimal trimming on the belly side. It felt nostalgic to work with a simple spruce branch bow - I quickly got it trimmed to my liking. After shooting a few dozen test shots I thought that the spruce branch bow is probably too light. Well, maybe I'll just practice short sessions with the strong recurve bow, then. (But, later on in the evening I split a log of a bird cherry tree. Out of the four quarters one or two seemed like they could make a proper bow. Well, but I'll leave the trimming work for another day.)

Tomorrow it will be friends visiting, and the next week I'll be at least partially back to my summer work.

A view before going to sleep.
A view before going to sleep.
The morning view.
The morning view.
Fish and potatoes.
Fish and potatoes.
Just relaxing.
Just relaxing.
tags: 
diary
folklore
homesteading
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Comments

Hi Erkka! So good to read your blog. It passes me a feeling of serenity and peace and the certainty that a simple, humble and near-the-nature life is much richer than anything else. Congratulations!

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