New Pines on Örö 

Dearest Pine


I hope you don’t mind my climbing on to your trunk, or branch, like some giddy goat – quite inappropriate behaviour for an old lady, I guess. But you are bent in such a funny and almost inviting way, so I simply had to try if I could get up on your “back”, as it were. Today the whole island of Örö is silent, almost miraculously so. Not only because there are no people – well, there are four people in the residency house in the south, and one woman is staying in her cottage not that far from the cottage where I am staying for now – no, it is because there is no wind, absolutely no wind – and that is rare in the outer archipelago; or is this the middle archipelago, perhaps. And not only is there no wind, there is a soft mist, almost like rain, that dampens all sounds. Here on the western shore the silence is so poignant because the sea is completely silent, too; it is not only still, it is covered with ice, frozen. Usually, the sea is roaring at least on some side of the island and is audible from everywhere.  It is very beautiful for human eyes, with the soft greyish white hues merging and softening all the hues of green and brown and the rust of the pine trunks. I wonder if you would find it so? Perhaps bright sunlight is what you find most beautiful, because that is energy for you, your food. Or then the equivalence of beauty is the pleasure of a soft rain shower. At least it is probably nice when there are no insects trying to get in under your bark, and they should be asleep or dead now. I guess you would not like me to sit here for very long, because my more than 50 kilos means quite a burden for your trunk. I don’t feel it sway or bounce under my weight, though. - I wonder what made you bend like this. Was there another branch that has fallen away, or did this part of the trunk bend in such a strange manner to counterbalance some other part that has now disappeared? Anyway, I guess I should better leave you to “stretch” yourself after taking my weight, and to be honest I can feel the dampness through my clothes.  – There is a duck or something similar sounding somewhere towards the north. I am not completely alone as an “animal” here, after all. Well, of course not. Although all the human footprints in the snow, at least the fresh ones, are my own, from yesterday or the day before, there are other footprints by hares, those I recognize, and then something that could be deer and then the small dog or cat like marks that are probably of the invasive species that has come here and is called raccoon dog in English. They move around mainly in the dark, I guess. The ones I see, or rather hear, are the birds. But they, too, are mostly silent now in the mist. So, thank you for letting me play at being a youngster here on your branch, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the winter and the coming spring. Bye, bye for now…

Örö 23.2.2021

Esteemed Pine Tree, or should I say esteemed colleague in this business of living on earth. Pleased to meet you this rainy-misty Tuesday afternoon, at the end of February, here on Örö or Ear Island in the southwestern archipelago of Finland. Only a few days ago there was a thick snow cover on the island, and the sea is still frozen – quite unusual in these times of global warming. Now, however, the thaw season seems to be here, and there are heavy drops of water landing on this paper every now and then. From where I sit here on your lowest branch I have a beautiful view to the sea on the eastern shore, and the small rocks and islets that rise up from the whitish grey ice. There is not much wind, which is unusual, and makes the place very silent. Normally, you would have the roar of the sea from some part of the island and also the sound of the wind in the trees, now that the sea is silent. Today I can only hear the occasional “drip”, “drop”. – We have not met before, you grow here a little to the side from the walking path, and I noticed your beautiful location only a few days ago when visiting another pine in the vicinity. At that time, I mistook the low-growing juniper on the rocks to be part of your branches and decided to return. And that I did, today. When I tried to place my camera tripod, I noticed I had forgotten the memory card – incredibly stupid of me. There was nothing else to do but to return, have some lunch and rest a little, and then start out again. And here I am. Luckily dusk is falling later and later, so there is still time. And after all, I wonder if I have anything special to tell you. Yes, they are killing some of your relatives on the other side of the island, in order to keep the landscape at least partly open. Basically, you can live here in peace because this is a national park now, so nothing to be afraid of, unless they want to restore some earlier landscape on the island, when there were less trees. That is the nature of trees to spread out and grow into woods and forests, I guess. You are invaders, for sure. That is natural, so why combat that? Well, probably because there are some species of plants and animals that need the open landscape in order to survive. So, you will have to endure some restrictions to your expansion, like everybody else. Everybody else except humans, or so it seems. There seems to be no limit to our rights of intrusion and exploitation. And in some manner my sitting here on your branch is an example of that brutal mentality, although there are much worse examples, of course. Anyway, that is another story; that I will not bother you with now. Let me finish by simply expressing my gratitude for your generosity. I really appreciate the possibility to spend this moment here with you, on you, talking (or rather writing) to you. I wish you all the best for the coming spring. Take care!