With a Birch in Mustarinda


Going out to find a tree to befriend was the first thing to do yesterday, when waking up in the Mustarinda House in Hyrynsalmi, where I will spend all of September. The house is a former school situated up on the Paljakka Hill right next to the protected old-growth forest in the Paljakka Strict Nature Reserve. The forest is mostly tall spruce trees with occasional birches and aspen. The trees around the house are interesting-looking old birches, and I chose one of them, behind the house, towards the forest (see image above, yesterday, and below, today). The small spruces growing next to the birch caught my eye, and I thought I could join them in reaching up towards the crown of the birch. The dry tree trunks in the meadow to the left in the image are an insect hotel, an artwork of by Markku Hernetkoski. So, my plan is to continue my practice of “becoming a tree” together with the birch while I am here – for the whole month, actually. (You can follow my diary on the RC, here.) I hope to find some other trees to work with as well, but this birch will be my trusted diary companion come rain or shine. I am happy to be in this exceptional place – see Mustarinda website – and hope that my time here will be productive. My plans include writing the first version of the text to a small book called Performing and Thinking with Plants. Anyway, I am enjoying the luxury of being so near to what we would call “korpi” in Finnish, which would probably translate as “wilderness”, but is not really the same. According to the Wiktionary it is either “a boreal forest type appearing on moist moraine soils, characterized by dense growth of spruce as the dominating tree species and deep layer of moss as undergrowth”, or simply a deep forest, an area remote from dense population; backwoods, backwater, the sticks or even a type of desert. Well, there is dense growth of spruce and plenty of moss. And the area is not too densely populated, the nearest village is 23 km from here. Ideal for focusing on trees, one would imagine…
 

 
 

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