Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stamp of the Day: Lighthouse (Svenska Högarna, Sweden)

Anybody that has read Tove Jansson's books about the Moomin Trolls knows that she has a special relationship to the sea.  The book Moominpappa at Sea ('Pappan och havet' in Swedish) takes place during a summer at a lighthouse far out in the archipelago on a little island, remote, scary, and beautiful.  Lighthouses are amazing buildings, sturdy by design, but isolated and lonely.  To get up to the action, the light, you have to step and step and step upwards through dark stairs, like a tunnel through a mountain.
These days lighthouses are endangered.  Most have no living people in them, and many have stopped shining.  Some are for sale. Some are taken by the oceans.  And most ships has GPS monitors that take you through the night.  Just 100 years ago, a blip in the time on Earth, there was just the sea, a boat, and a light at the distance, and nothing else to rely on.  Well compasses too, of course.  And sunrise and stars.  

Now it is all electronic, and abysmally insecure, unfortunately. A few irate or unresponsive electrons (=no juice!) and you are met by a black screen.  Few people in the past had a non-functioning compass (unless you put an iron rod next to it), but I think we all have swore over bad GPS directions or digital maps that suddenly show you driving in a river when in fact you are on a street in a city.  GPS is so convenient and insecure at the same time, it is scary.  It is like a teddy bear that can be lost at any time, and then what do you do.

Today's stamp is from Sweden, and shows the lighthouse at Svenska Högarna (which means 'The Swedish Mounds', which is here on Google Maps. It is out in nowhere, in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland.  Tove Jansson could have used this as her lighthouse for her book, that is for sure. It is one of the few lighthouses in Sweden that still has staff year-round.

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