It was the kind of August day that is more autumn than summer; rainy, melancholy, a perfect mist on the sea, the last of the summer flowers fading away, and I wanted to visit this old fishing port about 20km north of Oulu. I remember this place from my childhood – it was bopping back then, a whole fleet of boats going out every day to catch whitefish and Baltic herring and salmon, people like my grandparents buying the fish fresh from the fishermen in the morning. Fears of industrial pollution and cheap north Atlantic fish imports have all but killed the industry, and the moorings have filled with leisure boats. Another tiny piece of the world as it was crumbled away.
Hailuoto is a largish island in the Bothnian Sea, just off the coast of Oulu – just about visible from the mainland, but far enough for the access being by a ferry only. Living on the island is a small community of locals, and an even smaller community of vacationers; tourists come and go. I imagine this not being too dissimilar from the island in Stephen King’s Colorado Kid; a place defined by it’s isolation, slow to give up its secrets. There are the kind of old farm buildings one rarely sees on the mainland anymore, wild nature, sand dunes and pines forests, heath and marsh. The wind is always blowing, shifting the sands, and there’s economic beauty on the plain landscape.