Midsummer Afternoon – Part 1 – Visit to Harakka Island

Guest posts by Ice Swimmer


It was a hot afternoon just after Midsummer. I went to downtown Helsinki to take some photos.

In the first photo, you can see a jackdaw walking at the Market Square tram stop. I took the picture while waiting for the tram.

A jackdaw walks by © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The second photo is an “aerial photo” of a family of mute swans, two adults,

and five little cygnets. I’m on the shore end of the pier, from which the boat to Harakka picks up passengers.

I think the leftmost cygnet has some Cladophora around the base of the neck, at least I’m hoping it’s that and not plastic (I noticed the green stuff when looking at the edited photo). The green algae, which has a Finnish name ahdinparta, beard (parta) of the old Finnish god of the sea Ahti, is rather ubiquitous in shallow waters here and there’s a lot of it on the underwater stones in the picture.

Swan family dinner. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I took the boat to Harakka. The digitalis was in bloom and there were wild strawberries. It could be that when the Imperial Russian army was using the island before Finnish independence, they planted strawberries and other berries, as I’ve heard stories that it was their way to prevent the soldiers in fortress islands from having scurvy.

Digitalis and strategical strawberries.  © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This red-leaved rose was growing in a forested area on Harakka. I like how simple and unpretentious it looks.

Red-leaved rose with green leaves. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Most of Harakka is ruled by dinosaurs in the summer. This gull seemed to be above any ergonomic considerations.

Common gull forming an animal puddle. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

My visit to Harakka was cut a bit short by the low battery charge level of my phone. I had neglected to take an emergency charger (“sähköpossu”/”electricity piggybank” as I like to call them) with me.

Having come back to the mainland from Harakka, I saw these crows on a sign (warning about the underwater cable AFAIR) on the pier. They were “singing”. There’s a Finnish saying “Äänellään se variskin laulaa.”, which could be translated as: “Even the crow will sing with its own voice.”

Crows singing with their own voices. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I did take more than these pictures on Harakka and there could be material for further posts.

Goldfinches Come for a Visit

This year I planted some cornflowers that grew in front of the window. They were planned as degu treats, but with one thing and another, I didn’t get around to harvesting and drying them. They do look pretty sad to human eyes now, but they look damn delicious to the goldfinches. I rarely get to see them, so I was all the more surprised to find them within 30 cm of my nose, happily munching the seeds.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved This one’s grainy because I took it with my phone

Have some Flowers

While we took a look at the cultivated garden yesterday, today it’s time to look at the wilder side with some flowers.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

These poppies are just amazing. Too bad the rain ruined them all.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Here’s some simpler ones.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Last year I threw some cheap flower seeds on one area. They turned put top be white mustard, which bloomed last year, and alfalfa, which is growing like mad this year. The bees love it, the degus love it, I’ll let it flower so it can seed next year’s crop as well.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

And a colourful beetle. It was somewhat shy and I only had the mobile, so the pic isn’t great.

Garden Update: The Big Growing

The heavy rains with nice temperatures basically made the garden explode.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

What I thought was squash were actually the two courgette seeds I had planted. Turns out they are more resistant to frost. We’ll, have a lot of them over summer…

©Giliell, all rights reserved

One of the three sisters beds with the monster squash/pumpkin/whatever. I bought a small, withering plant for cheap and gave it soil and water and it is a very grateful plant.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I planted two different breeds of corn and it’s very noticeable.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Look at my tomatoes! By now I have to put in multiple sticks to support the whole plant. The first fruit are visible and they made it through both storm and rain alike.

 

Through my lens

©voyager, all rights reserved.

It’s been a while since I’ve been around, but I thought I’d pop in to say hello and let you know what’s up. Several weeks ago, Mr. V had a health crisis that’s kept me busier than usual. A lot busier, and I admit that I’ve been feeling stressed, exhausted and depressed. We’ve come through the worst of it, for now, but it’s left me feeling behind in just about everything, with worry nibbling at the edges of my days. Add to that the lingering grief of losing Jack, the fact that my best friend has moved to Nova Scotia and the continuing isolation of Covid, and it becomes a recipe for getting stuck in a not-so-good place.

It’s always been my vision to provide a positive type of blogging. This channel is full of serious writers who provide important content that I value, but what I have to offer is simpler. I want to share my vision of the beautiful, simple things in life that nurture us and give us reason to continue the fight for equality, justice and a livable planet. I think that has value, and I hope you do too. So, today I am kicking myself in the ass and saying enough of the feeling sorry for myself. It’s time to stop and lookup.

It’s Springtime, and tender green plants are being born. Colour is creeping into the grey landscape left behind by winter, and leaves are painting in the spaces between bare branches scratching at the sky. There’s a riot of green trailing streamers of red and yellow tulips, blue forget-me-nots, purple violets and pale blossoms of apple and plum. I’ve thrown open my windows, and the passing breezes bring in the sweet earthy scent of spring.

I’ve taken stock, and now it’s time to take a deep breath, count my blessings and with intention, begin again.

A Dandily One

Dandelions in the vegetable patch are a nuisance, but in the lawn, they are a delight to see. For me anyway. They bloom soon after snowdrops and narcissuses and continue to do so well into the fall. Thus they are an important source of food for bees, butterflies, and all other kinds of pollinators.

This is not the first dandelion of this year in my garden, but it is the first one with multiple blossoms opening at once. Unfortunately, there were no insects to be seen anywhere right now, although I did see bumblebee queens scouting the garden for nesting places.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

The Art of …

… flowers, by  Raku Inoue

This Montreal-based artist uses fresh flowers to create images. The pictures below are from his Natura Insects series, and you can read more about it at My Modern Met. You can also visit the artist’s web site, Reikan Creations, or his Instagram page, where you will find even more awesome whimsicality.

Kabutomushi (Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle), by Raku Inoue. Image from My Modern Met.

Black Widow, by Raku Inoue. Image from My Modern Met.

Butterfly, by Raku Inoue. Image from My Modern Met.

 

Mushroom Hunt

Yesterday we met our friends at the park, and this time I took my camera with me. The whole thing is currently overrun by mushrooms, toadstools, whatever. It’s not like I can identify any of them apart from the red toadstool that says “do not eat”. One day I#ll sign up for a “learning about mushrooms” class, but until that day, I will just collect their pics. the big advantage here is that they’re all good that way.

 

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved