I’m really happy that I grew up without computers and smartphones. I played with my friends from the same block of flats; we spent our days outdoors and in the nearby woods. Our favourite hobby was building huts and climbing trees. We knew those woods like the back of our hands, and we were never bored for a moment. Our close relationship with nature and forests were a given, as there were no attractions to compete with them, unlike how it is for the children of today.
My close relationship with the forest was deepened during the summers spent at our cottage. I was out with my sister and cousin from morning till night, and because the garden was surrounded by forest, everything we did involved trees and things we found in nature. When I was young, the forest seemed a bit frightening as you could actually get lost in the vast forest.
My grandparents had a small farm, so their livelihood came directly from nature and the forest. Farming, forestry, dairy farming, hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms were their lifeline. The forest was utilised in every possible way: it provided firewood, building materials, food and birch bark that could be turned into objects. My grandfather was a skilled maker of bark objects.
My father taught me about forestry. Although I love old forests, I also understand the forest owners’ approach to forest regeneration. The forest around our cottage shows all the stages: there are saplings as well as young and old trees. Storms, heavy snow and lightning also transform the forest. A large tree that has been struck into pieces by lightning is a constant reminder of the incomparable power of nature.
I think I need to thank my childhood experiences for my hobbies; they are all somehow connected to the forest: hiking, dog walking, nature photography, camping, berry- and mushroom-picking. The wild Northern Karelian landscape that opens out from our cottage still houses wolverines, elks and bears. Blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, spruce shots, chanterelles and other types of mushroom are waiting to be picked around the corner from the cottage. The forest has also inspired my interest in rarer species such as the chaga mushroom.
The forest is also present in my reading and writing activities, as I mainly read literature related to the forest and hiking and I write a blog on the same topic. I also find books about the ancient beliefs of the Finnish people, mythologies and myths about Finns interesting. For me, sacred places and groves, pruned stands and sacrificial trees, tar-burning pits, rock paintings, sacrificial rocks and other ancient monuments are the most fascinating places in the woods. They connect us not only with nature but also with our ancestors.
Department Secretary of Lappeenranta Academic Library