Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Landscape is Changing

This will be my 25th summer on the Island.

In late 1981, my parents were lucky enough to find a small island for sale, and the loans necessary to buy it. It measures only 300 by 70 meters, mostly smooth ice-ground granite with lichen and low pines, in a sheltered part of the Stockholm archipelago. There were two decrepit summer houses on the Island, which was lucky as it wouldn't have been possible to get a building permit for the new houses otherwise.

My dad and his friends did the demolition and the building. My mum took care of the household and the kids, baking innumerable chocolate fudge cakes. And after a bit more than a decade, us kids had grown up and three sturdy houses were finished. So was my parents' marriage. My mum bought my dad out of the Island and both went on to find better spouses.

The land is still recovering from aeons under the crushing frigid weight of the inland ice. Around here, it currently rises half a meter in a century. I've come here for a quarter of a century, which translates to 12.5 centimeters. It really shows at low water levels, like now. I am able to see at work the process that has turned Mesolithic seal hunting stations into mountaintops. If I make it to a ripe old age, I'll see my dad's jetties useless and landlocked and the rock lagoon where my brother and I used to swim gone dry.

I guess it's a lesson everyone learns with time: nothing is constant. Everything is changing. As Ursula LeGuin put it: all we ever have is here, now.

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Blogger Martha said...

Wow, how many people on the planet actually own an island? It sounds as though you mostly spend summers there-- what is the climate like? Please excuse my ignorance. I'm curious what it's like so far north. Are you partly protected by the currents, like the UK?

15 May, 2006 18:10  
Blogger Martin said...

The Island is beautiful in winter too. We walk to it across the ice. Mean temperatures in Stockholm are 18˚ centigrade in July and -3˚ in January. Yep, the Gulf Stream ameliorates the climate. We're at N 59˚, the latitude of southern Alaska and southern Greenland.

15 May, 2006 18:38  
Blogger AMber said...

Martin, I love the way you write sometimes! You have a very special way of writing about people you know, and about nature...

16 May, 2006 16:03  
Blogger Martin said...

Thank you, sweetie, it warms my heart!

16 May, 2006 17:49  

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