17.3. 2020 7 AM
Dear Little Tree, or trees, hello! It was nice standing next to you for a moment, and I hope you don’t mind that I am going to visit you today several times, actually once every hour, if all goes well. I noticed you, the two of you, last night when walking around in the park marvelling at the sculptures and beautiful willows and all kinds of trees and water features. You seemed so unassuming and somehow modest, although formed in such an interesting way. And the sun was setting somewhere behind you in a pleasant way. So, this morning when I woke, I had the thought to come and visit you, as soon as possible, to commence my day with you. In these days when all the world is in shock and awe because of the corona virus pandemic, it feels so comforting to spend time with you in this peaceful sanctuary. Thank you for letting me do that!
17.3.2020 8 AM
Dear little trees, after my second visit to you I feel more confident in spending the day together, although it seems to be a rather chilly day. Right now, it is only 12 degrees, which is quite a drop from 25 yesterday. There is no sun and the wind feels cold. When I stand next to you, I listen to the running water, and look at the birds among the reeds on the opposite side. Far away across the field a man walks to work, I guess. I do not know your name or species, which irritates me a little. You look rather familiar, resembling some type of trees at home, but then not really. Your leaves seem to be a little furry, or at least soft, but many of them are clearly plagued by some insects or a disease. I hope you don’t suffer too much! Although one of your trunks is covered with lichen and a large branch has been cut off, your crown is quite wide and green. And the place you grow in has both spaces to spread and neighbours to support you. I wonder if you really are twins, two separate trees, or only two trunks from the same root? Perhaps it does not make such a big difference in the end.
17.3.2020 9 AM
With the sun almost showing up it is a little warmer, or then I simply imagine. The difference in light is minimal, though, because of the cloud cover. You are probably much more sensitive to light than I am, because light is your main energy source, your food in some sense, what makes you thrive. Of course, you need water and minerals like all or most other forms of life as we know it, but light is the energy source for your photosynthesis, your speciality. It is indeed something to envy, a capacity to generate not only your own food, but food for everybody else. They say that one can remove 70% of your leaves, or the leaves of any plant, and you could simply grow them back, or grow new ones. It is a miracle in some sense, a very beautiful strategy of generosity. To give away not only half of what you make but 70 % of it to others, wow! It exceeds all Christian ideas of giving your other shirt to the one who needs it. - But, regardless of your generosity, the generosity of all plant life, it seems to me that you are not really well, your leaves show signs of withering and malformation. I guess there are simply too many insects feeding on you right now. Or, perhaps I am mistaken, perhaps you don’t mind if your leaves look grungy, as long as the photosynthesis -machine is running. And it is only my misguided aesthetic sensibilities that imagine you would feel bothered. But, on the other hand, it would be strange if you would not sense them somehow. And isn’t that what science has discovered, that you or your kin can actually emit chemicals that send out signals to other insects or birds to come to the rescue and eat some of insects that bother you. Life is complicated, for sure!
17.3.2020 10 AM
The sound of a lawnmower adds to the sound of running water, and then disappears again. It is moving in the anther end of this large park, an extra-ordinary sculpture park with water in ponds or small brooks providing the perfect setting for a multitude of artworks, large sculptures as well as smaller ones that you discover only when coming close. Probably this abundance of sculptures made me look at you, too, in terms of sculptural form. I am eager to know more about you and will try to ask people here if they might know. But strictly speaking, the names of trees are only important for humans, a human invention to control and organise and try to master their surroundings. For you it probably does not matter what I call you. With that I do not mean that you would not recognize your kin, your family or relatives, or that it would not matter to you. I only propose that the name and species identification in terms of taxonomy, is irrelevant for you. It is in a strange way important to me, however, because it serves as the entrance to more knowledge about you, your history and preferences, for instance. But, seen in another way, that need to know, that strange curiosity of mine, is simply a human habit, that should not disturb our relationship...
17.3.2020 11 AM
So, now I know your name, your human name, which according my host is Rhus Pyroides, or today Searsia Pyroides, or ”Common currant-rhus”. I looked you up on the internet and it seems that you are a native of South- Africa and that you can vary a lot in size and shape, so you can be bushy or thorny, depending on your growing environment. You can be found in the bushveld or savannah, in dry thornveld and on rocky hillsides. And also, in luscious gardens, like here. You are supposed to be very hardy, tough and drought resistant, too. There are male and female individuals and the females bear small fruits. I have not found any fruits on you, so you might be a male. Or then the few dry things next to your leaves might be former fruits, devastated by insects. In that case you are a female. Or what if one of you is male and the other female? The branches hang low only on one side. Perhaps that would be too romantic, or anthropomorphic to imagine that. I prefer to think of you as twins, or as an individual with a dual ’personality’, at least until further notice...
My intuition seems to be correct, there were small crumbled berries or rather dried flowers on the branches of both entwined trunks, so it might be you are really two males or then just one dual male. You are a host to the moth Xylopteryx arcuata (what a name!) and it might be that those moths have burdened you in excess. On the other hand, it is the end of season, end of summer, so no wonder you look a little tired. I suppose there would be berries or fruit if you were a female, though. - There will obviously not be much sun today, which is fine with me; only the shifts in light make the images more interesting. There might even be rain later today, even a thunderstorm. I suppose you would find it refreshing, and it might look spectacular, but the camera would probably not like it very much. I have to find some plastic protection for it, if need be...
17.3.2020 1 PM
During this corona virus pandemic-panic it is an utter luxury to spend time wi5 you here, in peace and harmony, surrounded by beauty and calm. It is not possible however, to forget the chaos and anxiety of the surrounding world, closing off slowly or quickly, and the accompanying difficulties. Should I stay in this country as planned or should I try to leave as soon as possible. And if so, when would that be? Right now, I am here with you, waiting for news from my helpful project manager. The person who would be able to change the flight is ill, however, and it seems like nobody knows really what to do. That gives me a little bit of extra time, despite the fact that Finnish citizens are supposed to return home as soon as possible. Right now, there is nothing I can do except wait. And spend time with you. Thank you for you comforting company!
17.3.2020 2 PM
After a delicious lunch life feels so much easier, funny enough. But that is now rather obvious, is the lack of sun, which means that all the images where we perform or appear together look probably rather similar. Before the next session I have to change the battery in the camera, and I hope I can recreate the same framing or something sufficiently similar. The framing does not affect your performance, of course, but it does have an impact on the viewer of the video that I will edit of our meeting. If there is a sudden change or ’jump’ between the images the feeling of a smooth succession is destroyed, and focus is diverted from the minuscule shift in light and shadow. Now that I think of it, it might be even more interesting to have such uniform light. There will be shifts and changes inevitably, but probably hardly noticeable. And that is even more exciting, in some sense. Exciting for the viewer, that is, who is attuned to visual nuances, not necessarily for us, performing together in the grey semi-shadow. But such soft grey light is soothing, too.
17.3.2020 3 PM
For a brief moment it seemed like the sun would come out from the clouds, or rather through the clouds, but it soon disappeared again. At least the battery change went relatively smoothly. I came to think of you as ’the dancing Rhus trees’, and perhaps that could be a good name for the video - except that it limits and specifies the associations too much. But you do look like two dancing figures, feet together, stretching their arms out in an oval form. Well, talk about anthropomorphic imagination! The more I visit you, the more I come to like you, but there is always the danger that I only like my own projections or fantasies. If I would really be able to sense your feelings or reactions, I might be very surprised. Perhaps you really detest my coming so close to you, or prepare for combat in fear of being hurt, or most likely, hardly notice me at all. When I began visiting trees, I thought you were slower than humans, so I imagined staying with you for a few minutes, sitting or leaning on you, would resemble a handshake or a quick embrace. But scientists say you are not slow at all, because you can react very quickly by emitting chemicals when under threat. I do hope you can sense that I come with friendly thoughts and am not posing any kind of threat, at least not any that I know of....
17.3.2020. 4 PM
When I look at the weather forecast it is supposed to be raining here, but when I look at the sky, I see clouds, yes, but no rain yet. The wind has calmed down, and the birds are silent, everybody is waiting for the rain to start. You don’t seem to mind, though. And why would you? Rain is probably a pleasure for you, sweeping away some of the moths and the dust, a refreshing shower. The camera would not like the rain, so I brought a plastic bag to cover it while it stays out with you, waiting for the next session. There are not that many of them left. The sun will set at 20 minutes past six, so the last session, planned to be at 7 PM (since I began 7 AM) might be in complete darkness. Before that, two more ’normal’ sessions. They feel like being all the same - except for the wind, but the camera will probably notice differences that I do not. And you have surely adjusted your leaves according the shifting light - although I cannot see it. Strangely enough, although I feel more relaxed with you and enjoy our moments of performance together, I have not come any closer to you, I think. You remain mysterious and self-enclosed, and that is fine, I respect your wish to be who you are.
17.3.2020 5 PM
Still no rain, which is fine! There is a feeling of end-of-day in the air, even though it is not time for dusk yet. Where did this day go? How did we spend it, our only day together? Or how did I make use of or engage with or enjoy my enormous privilege of being able to spend this day here with you? Like always, I have spent most of the time worrying about the future, planning and imagining, sometimes recollecting, but less so than usual, perhaps because I am so aware of the limited time I am here in this magic garden, and in this country altogether. You, on the other hand, will most likely spent the rest of your days here in this place and they will be many, hopefully. I do not know how old you are, and I cannot find your average life span noted anywhere. I do note that you are liked by many birds because of your berries (which I have not seen, though) and that different parts of you have been used for various medicinal purposes. Since they say you are drought- resistant and call you hardy and tough, they probably mean that you are long-lived, too. I also learned that you are sometimes called Firethorn but have not seen any thorns on you. The more I read about you, the more I begin to doubt if you really are this Searsia pyroides, or Rhus pyroides. Since one of the first descriptions I encountered began by saying that you are ’very variable in all respects’ I trust that you simply are a very special individual. So, pleased to meet you, dear Firethorn.
17.3.2020 6 PM
And now the rain came, right when I stood next to you thinking that it was already dark despite the 20 minutes left to sunset. The first drops fell on my skin through your leaves, and the first lightning with some thunder in the distance began at the end of our performance. When I walked back to the house, with the camera, the drops began to fall heavier, and a harsh lightning illuminated the path so suddenly that I thought it had struck nearby. Now, when I am sitting indoors writing this, the rainfall is like a shower. All day this storm was in coming, and it had a perfect timing in terms of our collaboration. The wind had changed its direction, I could sense it while standing with you, and the gusts became stronger, but I was not worried and did not hurry. Now, when I see the force of the rain, I hope you do not suffer but rather enjoy it. And probably you are accustomed to these storms. They are quite spectacular, I must say. Out day together was calm and peaceful. Thank you for the experience, and all the best for the future!