A s most of the summer residents and pleasure boaters have returned to the mainland, there are few boats in the Finnish Archipelago. A few families brave the autumn seas along with the year-round locals. One family with a holiday cottage on the island of Dömaskär in the outer Archipelago visits there year round. I joined them to spend a November weekend on their own island. The boat trip of nearly 30 kilometres passed quickly as the sea was calm. In summer there are sometimes enough boats here to create traffic jams. In autumn, a solitary boat on the horizon is a typical sight. The boat arrives at the island's dock, and the children clamber ashore in their life jackets. Timi, the dog, has a tough job trying to round up these city kids as they frolic in the sudden freedom of the outer Archipelago. We adults have also left all unnecessary cares and stress behind on the mainland. The mother of the family has spent every summer of her life on Dömaskär. Four decades on, life on the island has hardly changed. On arrival, the father brings in firewood and she begins heating up the cabin, which is quite damp inside. He heads off to throw a fish trap into the sea. Each of the kids is assigned a job. Son Alex starts heating up the old-fashioned smokesauna, which can easily take six hours. Daughters Ellen and Stina start gathering aromatic juniper boughs to decorate the cottage's living room and entrance way. The youngest children, Amos and Frida, rush to the shore to collect seashells. After the sauna, our hostess recalls an autumn trip to the island which turned out to be three days longer than planned as a storm raged, keeping the boat at dock. Fortunately they had enough food in the house and water in the well. The youngest kids in the family did not mind a bit; in fact they were glad to have three days extra off from school. A november nor'wester buffets the shore of Dömaskär. As the wind reaches 22 metres a second, the last leaves are pulled off the island's rowan trees.
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