Valikko Sulje

A tree talks

A tree.

In Manlahti, Immalanjärvi, a pine tree stands tall, surveying the scenery with the tranquil dignity of a centenarian. Its mighty branches have held a goldeneye’s nest, and flying squirrels have sheltered in its shade.

Close by the tree there used to be a barn in which corpses were kept during poor travel conditions before being moved on to the church. The tree is called ’Priest’s pine’ because legend has it that a priest once gave sermons to the congregation using the platform erected by the tree as a podium. The tree was given official protected status in 1967.

The priest climbs up the stairs on his aching legs and holds onto me for support. Huffs and puffs, a thin whistling sound emanating from his throat. He does seem to be having a lot of trouble today. People are starting to gather round. I stretch out my thinnest branches over my friend. He stands slightly bowed, until he looks up and smiles. He starts to speak. I sway myself, let the wind take me. My friend’s voice still carries well, despite his age.

Deep inside my bark I still hold the memory of the moment when he climbed close to me for the first time. It was early spring, and I wore a thin cloak of delicate green. He spoke, and I was relieved of all the chill that had up to then resided in the dead nearby and become part of me. His words emanated warmth and it was caught in my foliage, giving it new strength and growth. I came back to life again.

Now I see how he shakes. His figure is still steady, but I know something has reached its end. He is about to go far away. If a tree has a memory, I will carry him with me. It is my turn to give my friend the gift of life.

Text: Pekka Vartiainen
Pictures: Anu Nuutinen
Translation: Annira Silver
Location on map

A tree.

The story and the pictures are a part of Tarinajoki book (River of Stories), made in Rural Explorer project. As part of a culture tourism project, stories arising from the body of folk narratives and history also have a function in relation to the productisation of tourism. The stories are linked to real locations.