May – Month of the Willow

This Willow grows on Harakka Island, right outside Kaivopuisto Park near the centre of Helsinki. Originally I thought I would look for a willow a little further away, but a few days ago when I visited my studio on the island looking for some old files I noticed this huge shrub on the hill and decided that this would be a slightly different tree to work with for the next calendar entry. The willow, Saille, is the tree for the fifth month of the Celtic Tree Calendar, which I am now performing by creating small still-acts with the tree of the month in Helsinki with environs. My interest is not so much in Celtic lore, but in finding out about the great variety of trees growing in my extended neighbourhood. So on Saturday morning I took my small boat and rowed across to the island, managed to get past the fierce male geese protecting their spouses sitting in their nests, and place my camera on a tripod on the hill.

The willow is fairly big, with its branches spreading over a large area, sticking close to the ground. The first image I made by sitting for a while on a boulder next to the willow, but although surrounded by its branches I was not really in contact with the willow. I wanted to sit on the trunk of the willow itself, too, and that was possible since some of them were fairly thick. Only the beginning of the session were I forced myself in among the branches was recorded, since I forgot to check the memory card, which was full again. But that did not matter so much, because my position in the image was bad, much too low, and sitting there listening to the bumblebees for an extra round was a pleasure.

So I made a third attempt, and this one turned out to be my favourite. The willow covers most of the image and I am almost hidden in it; my scarf is somehow caught by a branch so it almost looks like it was hanging there by itself.

The calendar image of the month of the willow, which extends from April 15th until May 12th, at least according to some sources, is thus not presenting a singular tree by the shore and a human figure sitting in it in the manner of the previous calendar images. Rather, this image shows a mess of twigs with the human figure half hidden among them, presenting another way of performing with a tree. After this experience I am no longer worried about some other types of vegetation included in the tree calendar like common reed or ivy.