Valikko Sulje

The Lumberjack’s Stone

A stone, which has numbers scarved on its surfice.

The Lumberjack’s Stone was found by a man working in the forest in Rautjärvi in the 1950s. He told others of his discovery, and it transpired that the markings on the stonehäyh related to the border after the Uusikaupunki Peace Treaty of 1721. The stone had been carved with a line from south-east to north-west, with figures on either side of the line: in the north the Russian star and in the south the Swedish crown. Above the line was the year the border was drawn, 1722.

The man is making long, deep pulls on his saw. The blade bites into the timber. His back a little bent, steady eyes watching the saw moving back and forth, the man grunts and breathes heavily. Soon there is a rustling sound, at first slight, tentative, then the cracking of breaking fibres, which builds up to become a continuous roar, as if emanating from deep down like from the maw of a living creature. The ground shakes when the huge tree trunk lets go of its life force and falls from the wuthering heights onto a mattress covered with low hummocks.

The man wipes the sweat from his brow. He straightens up and looks at the gap opened up in the forest. A light breeze catches his face. The man uses his axe to sned the dense branches, turns the cut limbs aside, progresses systematically towards the narrow top. The sweet, tart scent of work drifts in the air. Droplets of perspiration cover his face. The axe is starting to weigh heavy in his hands.

Insects dance around the man, hoping for a feed. Some land on a hand uncovered by the work gloves. The man swats the most audacious and sits down on a moss-covered stone.

A cuckoo calls somewhere. The man counts the number of the remaining years granted him by the bird, then rummages his rucksack for food, cuts a slice from a dark chunk of bread with his puukko knife and spreads it with butter. He takes a bite and raises his bottle of milk to his lips. He looks into the green emptiness, seeing nothing. His jaw works lazily. The air is clear and dry. The man’s thoughts stray afar, until they return. There are more trees to fell.

The man stands up and grabs a handful of moss off the rock to wipe his blade clean. His eyes stop. It looks like someone has scratched something strange on the surface of the stone.

A stone which has numbers scarved on its surfice.

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

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.