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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Night Watch


One night each year we have to spend it in our boat yard, "guarding" the marina. Each member takes a turn and hence we have security all summer long. The funny thing in this arrangement is that it's not really dark enough through the night for a would be robber to really get away with a big take. But, boat theft is actually a pretty big problem here in Stockholm so we are thankful for the security measures our boat yard takes to ensure that none of us get robbed throughout the summer months.
I actually like our "vakt" night. (Vakt means guard or watch in Swedish.) Well, I should qualify that statement. I like it when the weather is good and this year the weather was spectacular. Not only was it clear and sunny, it was warm as well. I love to sit up and watch the night sky play with the dim light that lingers just below the horizon and then marvel at the full day light that breaks by 3.00 a.m. Tanner is a big fan of the night. He has free reign of the entire marina and he literally runs around like an idiot all night long! He's in and out of the water, chasing the ducks, fascinated by the herring that are flopping around the shore, and just generally pleased to be off leash in such a fun environment!
There are strict protocols about the things you have to do in order to complete a successful vakt night. An entire notebook with fastidious instructions awaits you. I read through them with great care. The last thing we wanted was to be the "stupid Americans" who couldn't figure out how to get it right! Posted throughout the boatyard are small wooded squares with a large X on them. As I write this I am fully disappointed that I didn't get a picture of one of them! Oh well. Next time. Throughout the night you must walk the boat yard, taking a photograph of these x's to ensure that you are actually making rounds and not just sipping red wine whilst sleeping in the clubhouse! It's actually a bit fun to walk around the yard, down every pier, eye-balling the various watercraft that grace our marina. In between the "guarding", Doug fished, I took pictures of the night sky, Tanner ran around, and we just generally speaking, had fun.
It was never dark. When we arrived at 11.45 p.m. the night sky had that lovely bluish hue that you see during late twilight. It hovered like this until about 1.30 when it began to get much lighter. By 3.00 a.m. it was fully light and looked like it was midday. It had started to get a bit chilly around 2.00. I climbed into my sleeping bag in order to stay warm and it was pretty cozy just sitting in my lawn chair on the pier. I was pretty happy to sit out and enjoy the changing sky but at 3.00 everything imaginable came to life! The ducks starting quacking like there was no tomorrow, the seagulls starting flying around in search of an early breakfast, and worst of all the mosquitoes woke up from their slumber. It was awful. They were swarming and actually forced us inside. Once inside, it's very hard to stay awake as it is warm and cozy inside our clubhouse! Tanner was not at all happy about going inside and so he pranced about the clubhouse, his nails click, click, clicking on the wood floor driving both of us completely crazy! Finally he settled down and decided to snooze with us. I got up at 4.00 to take pictures, then again at 5.30. I was a little disappointed that I had slept through the moment when the sun actually rose above the tree line. By 5.30 the harbor was still, the water was glassy, the sky was bright with the warmth of another beautiful summer day in Stockholm. Doug took his last lap around the boatyard, I cleaned up the clubhouse hoping to leave little trace of the dog's hair and footprints and at 6.00 a.m. we checked out, feeling quite satisfied that we had completed our vakt well.
I love the Stockholm "night". It is so wild and beautiful and I find the overwhelming amount of light that passes over me right now so refreshing. I don't know if having total light for a few months really balances the darkness that envelopes us throughout the winter, but I have come to truly love the long evenings that a sunny summer in Stockholm brings to our life. Here's another beautiful day breaking in Stockholm. This is what the harbor looked like at 6.00 a.m. when we departed. Boats were safe. Sun was shining. Life is good.