Lyskväll, or in English, Light evening, has it’s origins in Finland, where the coast was illuminated by fires and candles, to remember the summer past and long for its return. Winter waits in the wings for his cousin to finally relinquish her merciful warmth, before making his way slowly westwards from the steppes of Russia into Scandinavia, plunging all into icy darkness.
It is not hard to understand why this festival has so much affinity in a part of Europe where winter impinges itself so savagely upon the land and darkness lingers deep into the following year. The folk of northern Sweden, long for the sun’s return and need her healing warmth to rejuvenate body and soul soaking up her light in this beautiful part of the world. I make no apology for my own heathen passion, for as a sailor who is used to living with, and harnessing the elements, the old ways are far more relevant than the theoretical musings of today’s proselytising religious movements.
The following morning, I could really sense that summer had gone and there was a curiously empty, forlorn feeling, augmented by the closed restaurant which I have visited nearly every day while Free has been out of the sea. Seeing Stefan, Micke, Sofi and the other happy young folk so frequently has highlighted a wonderful, lazy summer with a space to write, read and find company.
I have always been made so welcome and every day has been relaxed, reflective and throughly enjoyable. Curiously, it is another one of life’s great paradoxes, that the more one basks in such pleasure, the less pleasurable it becomes; I know it is time to sail again and to leave this very special place. It would be such a shame for the magic to be lost amidst indolent complacency and my memories will always be very special and a true reflection of a life well lived.
The day dawned with a ferocious sou’westerly gale blowing through the harbour, adding to that autumnal feeling and the approaching winter, but I have always found that the winds in these northern latitudes usually ease off by nightfall. It would have been such a shame to to spoil this charming festival.
My suspicions were confirmed as the clouds slowly departed to leave a cool, crisp but beautiful evening, and as night fell, the whole shoreline around the vik, slowly revealed the mystical illuminated twinkling of hundreds of candles, so wonderfully pagan. The restaurant began to fill and Stefen and his young crew (even you Micke!!!) began to serve drinks and food, its aroma delightfully drifting around the harbour.
This is my third festival since arriving in the north of the Baltic; the first was in Stocka, a small village to the north, but I have to admit that Borka’s celebration was far more impressive, and this year’s the best of all.
The restaurant windows were opened so that the revellers could get a better view of the magnificent firework display and the brygga was full of folk, adding to a splendid spectacle as the night sky erupted into a crescendo of noise and lights. As always the best was saved until last and then all the energy faded away leaving the farewells and reflections on a marvellous Scandinavian summer.
The time has come to leave the viking lands, for dear old Free cannot sustain my life in the ferocity of winter, even with the heating that my friend Roger Lundqvist so kindly helped me install.
The nomadic life beckons once again…