There was a plentiful supply of many kinds of berries and mushrooms in our forest, namely strawberries and blueberries amongst others.
I was not a good berry-gatherer unlike Juta, but I liked to pick mushrooms instead. This was one of my favourite hobbies. Though there were a lot better berry patches in Estonia we always managed to pick a lot of berries and mushrooms from our forest.
A parasol mushroom has found its new owner
Returning with full baskets
Even though we were such unenlightened mycologists in the beginning, we soon became quite wise. We always had guests when it was time to pick berries or mushrooms, and none of them returned with empty baskets. Later on, when I'd had enough of picking mushrooms, my duty was preparing dinner for the mushroom-pickers.
The year of 1979 was a kind of milestone for us, this was the year that the Kaasiku home owner succeeded in finding local electricians to install a line to our house. This was not a cheap job, but was worth every penny I paid for it. We had had to wait for a very long time because the electricians were busy with many customers. The poles had already been delivered to our house, and had lain there for about two months before they were erected.
To make ready for the big day I had prepared all the installations inside our summerhouse and at last everything was ready. My duty was to dig a trench for the cable running from the last stake to the house which was about 60 meters in length.
I had never before done any work with such enthusiasm because this meant that at last the dark evenings were to be consigned to history, and, what was more important we would be able to use all kinds of different electrical appliances. And then it happened - for the first time our house and garden saw electric light!
While I was working on everything else, Juta's garden was blooming in its beauty.
Juta among her flowers
This all took a lot of work too and sometimes it felt that I had taken on a second job although this was not the case because after a busy day at work one can go home and close the door on the day's work but this was impossible in our case. Our working day lasted from the early morning until the late evening, but we never grumbled. Every time we came to our summerhouse we quickly changed our clothes and forgot everything connected with the town.
Juta and her rhubarb
During the first year that we owned the summerhouse my annual holiday entitlement was only 2 weeks, and in only every third year could I take my entitlement during the summer. But in my new job, which was hazardous (a chemical factory), I got much longer annual holiday entitlement - one month and always to be taken during the Summer, which we spent in the countryside. There was a grocery van which came to the village every Monday, but if we needed something special we rode our bicycles to the nearest shop which was 8 Km away, these were wonderful days.
The summerhouse now being supplied with electricity made it possible for me to do such work that I had never even dreamed of before. When the shed was renewed I built a small sauna/bathroom inside it. The result was wonderful. Our water was soft and after washing it was possible to feel a special cleanliness we never felt in our town flat. We were not fans of the vapour bath, which are usual in Estonia and in Finland, so it was not the classical version of the real Sauna.
One of our first electrical appliances was the pump of course. At last we could water our garden whenever we needed to. Usually watering took more than an hour. Our estate was quite big already, our arable land I had cleared and tilled ready for cultivation with hard work, and Juta's garden full of flowers needed a lot of water.
Juta watering plants
The lawn mower was the second tool I made, every kind of hand tools were part of our 'arsenal'. Later I built a small turning-lathe for wood crafting.
There had been a cellar near the house but it was largely unusable so as we did not need this kind of cellar I filled it in and built over the top a sitting area with a wooden swing, although we did not have much time for sitting and using the swing ourselves.
However when guests arrived we had a lovely outdoor place to sit and drink coffee.
Behind the house I dug a small pond which I lined with plastic. There was no need for this, but it was just for something to do, even though it might prove to be useless.
Our summerhouse was situated in a very nice place, there was a lovely forest and a cornfield surrounding it, but one thing was missing - there was not anywhere to swim within easy reach of our village. The narrow river was not deep enough for swimming and the closest lake with its boggy banks was about 15 kms from our summerhouse and the coast was 50 kms away and we did not want to waste time driving to the coast. Yes, our river was quite high in early spring when melting ice and snow threatened to wash away the wooden bridge, but this lasted for just a short time. In summer its water level did not even reach up to a man's knees. The only place we could swim in the river was where it was a bit deeper, but very muddy.
Nevertheless our river offered us other entertainments than swimming. There was a plentiful supply of Crayfish, however, one needed a license to fish for them, but we ever bothered to apply for one. And it happened that on one jolly evening we spent on the river bank three officers of the law happened along. We, needless to say, were given a fine but the situation was very comical. The next day I wrote a long poem about our experience which soon was quite well-known amongst the villagers. In the poem I did not give the officers particularly polite names, so it was just as well they never heard about my poem.
There was something strange with the water, at least in our garden anyway, in that when we arrived there on a rainy August evening we were very surprised to see that there was a river running through our garden and not just a small one, but one that could easily compete with the officially existing river!
This trick of nature gave us the possibility of enjoying the benefits of a water course on our land, even though it was a little chilly, but it was OUR river! If we intended to sell our house at this time of year the price would have been twice as much, but we never even thought about selling our dream summerhouse.
Of course this kind of 'miracle' of nature did not ever last for long, and did not happen every year, but it was unforgettable.
In 1975 a new member of our family arrived. No we did not have a baby. This newcomer was a four-legged one, and very hairy, and his name was Joss. This was our cat.
It was clear that during our holidays we could not let him stay in our flat alone, so this caused a few problems. Although Joss liked to live in the countryside, he could not stand traveling in the car as he was very restless even though he knew where we were going. The situation was different when we reached the summerhouse. When we arrived every nook and cranny had to be checked-out and this took him a lot of time. In the beginning we did not let him run loose because he had never been outside before and had no experience of 'the big outdoors'. However, later, after a few months, we saw that we no longer had any reason to be worried and we allowed him gradually more freedom and Joss always stayed near us and always came when we called him. But in time his self confidence grew and often we could not find him where he should have been so we became very worried indeed, only to find him in a neighbour's cowshed sitting in the hay rack glaring at the cow! Later he went walkabout to the next village, this was a big shock for us so it meant that for some time after this escapade of his he was 'grounded'!
The place of rest our little friend found in the countryside is under a big bird-cherry tree, where forget-me-not flowers surround his grave and birds are singing a lullaby to him.
Our neighbour's dogs offered consolation, they all were our great friends, so great that sometimes they came over by themselves to visit us.
There were other animals around us too. During the first years we owned the summerhouse there was a field behind our garden. The local collective farm raised heifers who spent their days in the field.
They were especially interested in what we were doing, sometimes dozens of them stood by the fence just watching us. Sometimes they trampled down the barbed wire fence and came into our garden, but as we did not have many flowers in the garden at this time, they did not spoil anything. Juta in her endless love of animals made friends with them, and when possible she fed them with all the bread we had with us. The next friend was a horse, who did not belong to anyone, all the villagers owned him. Although Juta was a bit afraid of horses she always patted and fed him.
There were always a lot of guests to our summerhouse. Our colleagues and friends visited us, especially at the end of summer and in autumn when there were berries and mushrooms in the forest. We did not mind at all because, as I explained earlier, I did not like berry picking and Juta felt safer in the forest with companions, though there was nothing to be afraid of. Having people to stay overnight was not a problem as we had a large armchair which converted to a bed, and when more than one guest arrived we made them beds in our guest room in the shed. Sometimes we had guests from more 'exotic' places such as:
... Georgia ...
... Latvia ...
... and even from Finland.
In the Soviet time foreigners from the west were forbidden to leave the area of Tallinn. We, however, were lucky and nobody was charged with spying.
End of the first part