The Estonian house

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Some days ago I left Spain and the building for a while to go back to Sweden and further to Estonia. Not surprisingly it became quite hectic before my trip home so I needed to postpone the flight one day to be able to make some important decisions regarding materials for bathrooms, kitchen etc. However I feel confident that our builders are doing a good job!

Anyhow, here I am now, in my Estonian home, in the outskirts of a small town Loksa at the nothern coast of Estonia. It always feels relaxing and joyful at the same time to come here and spend some nice days with my Estonian family, my mother, siblings and nephews. We enjoy Estonian sauna and Estonian food of course!

 

The house itself is located only 50 meters from the Baltic sea. From the windows you can see the sunlight glittering on the waves and when you open the balcony doors you can hear the sounds of the sea. This year the sea is still frozen but the winds have made some serious attempts to break the ice. I enjoy walking in the pine forests and sandy dunes of the beautiful beach. It is a must to go down to the beach to see the sunset. Pure magic!

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However, the Estonian people have not always been able to enjoy their beautiful beaches. I was born in the sixties in a middle-size town Rakvere in Estonia then occupied by Soviet forces. The military bases were located all over the country and the coastline was guarded especially strictly to avoid people leaving the country in small boats. Only those living in the coastal villages had permission to enter the area. Most of the coastline was cut off by fences or by several meters wide stripes of sand where footprints of a runaway could easily be detected.  Only certain guarded beaches were open for public. I remember the summer holidays spent in a school camp at the coast. When arriving to the coastal zone, the border guards stopped our bus to control all the passengers, childern and teachers, in the bus. The camp was frequently patrolled by the guards, day and night. I also remember the feeling of horror when the guards lit in through the window of our cabin at night with strong torches that lightened up the room as if it was daylight. They even made an attempt to beak up the window, luckily not successfully…. However except for this special occasion we felt safe – somehow this made the camp even more adventurous. We knew we could not do anything about it,  it was just another stupid thing we had to live with.

In spite of the fact that we were living in a closed country, isolated from rest of the world (exept the Soviet Union) and totally controlled by a foreign regime, we children enjoyed our childhood. We did not have to worry about standing in lines for hours to buy groceries for preparing the dinner or building a house and buying housegear for the family. Our parents let us children enjoy our innocent unknowledge about the political situation in the country. But we understood and sometimes it felt as if you had a role in a silly play. My parents grew all possible kinds of vegetables and kept hens and chicken in our garden, where every square meter was well used. We got a glimse of the “real world” through Finnish television that could be caught in Northern Estonia by homemade antennas. People got an impression that life in the West was like in Dallas….

My father who was a schoolteacher built a home for us, a two-story house of grey silicate bricks, typical for that time. My brother and my sisters were helping him with easier tasks – it took some years to get the house ready.  When I was born, the family moved from the small village where my parents had been working as teachers while my grandma took care of the household. The new house was much bigger and had amenities like cold water in the kitchen tap and big stoves heated with wood. In the kitchen you could always find our grandma in a clean apron standing in front of the cooking oven. Our kitchen was the cosiest place in this world where everybody gathered but I also loved the garden. Summer mornings when I woke up I grabbed a cup and run into the garden in my nightgown to pick some fresh strawberries, rasberries and black current. I would mash it with some sugar and eat the smoothie sitting on the staircase.

 

When my father died  at the age of 87 my mother, who was 19 years younger, stayed alone in the cold and uncomfortable house in Rakvere. It took a big effort from her to carry wood for heating and take care of the big garden. We felt there was no point to modernize the house and started to look for a suitable house for our mom and her many visiting children and grandchildren. In autumn 2007 we found the house at the beach in Loksa, originally built as a shop, in a terrible condition but with high ceilings and lot of possibilites. We all fell in love with the place with coastal athmosphere and high pine trees and very soon the house was ours! Me and my brother replanned and rebuilt it totally. In december 2008 our family gathered in the new house for Christmas.

 

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