The Month of the Birch

Today, while walking at the shore in Munkkiniemi, looking for suitable twisted pine trees to climb in, I saw all kind of other trees that looked inviting, including two nice birch trees. Then I suddenly remembered a blog post I read last night, stating that the Celtic month of the Rowan begins today. (See here) I have worked with the Celtic Tree Alphabet before, in a series of small site-specific audio works or monologs called Talking Trees, so the idea of a tree calendar seemed familiar enough. I realised I could create a Tree Calendar with small video clips, each one with the tree of the month. And I immediately also realised that if I wanted to start with the month of the birch, which actually ended yesterday, I should perform with a birch now, today. The weather was perfect and the birches would be clearly distinguishable against the snow on the ice. Arguably the weather would not be that dissimilar, so a calendar image could be created one day too late. So, why not? After a rather long walk along the shore, through beautiful pine forest – not a single one of them twisted at all, and with no branches anywhere low – I returned to the two birches that had caught my eye to begin with and decided to try. It was trickier than I thought to get up on the rather low branches, I hurt my rib rather badly with the first tree, by mistake, but managed to drag myself up and sat there for a while marvelling at the sun on the ice. I made another attempt with the other birch, a little larger image, that is, with a little more distance to the camera, and that birch proved even harder to climb up to, but I succeeded in the end. It is rather alarming how week my arms have become, they can barely take my own weight. My original idea with the two birches was to make two images that could be combined, placed next to each other, as if two characters were looking at each other, but as it turned out these images are not to be combined that way but stand clearly as two alternatives. Luckily I do not have to decide now which one is the “real” one, or which one to use. Probably I will make two versions of both, one which includes my struggle to get up in the tree, and one which is static, more like a still image. The first birch is more graphic, with light from the side:
The second birch is more flat, but the landscape with the yellow reeds looks great:
I placed my bag between the camera on tripod and the tree to discourage passersby from walking in front of the camera, to now avail. But the snapshots taken with my smartphone look much sharper than the stills from the video recorded with my “real” camera. They were meant to document the situation.