Nature in all its manifestations has always been very special to me. I grew up in semi-urban and rural places with immediate access to forests, meadows, and lakes. Nature was where I spent all my free time; unguarded, alone, or with friends. I am convinced that my respect for nature stems from my childhood years and the way I could interact with the natural environment.
I remember being fascinated by all things natural from the time I was aware of my own existence. Birds outside my window, plants and trees, ants, lizards, bumblebees, dragonflies, hedgehogs, rain, snow, hail… the list of wonders can go on and on. I remember spending most of my time outdoors with my sister, other children, or by myself. I would play hide-and-seek in a wheat field with friends, collect mushrooms and berries in a forest with my family, or just climb trees wishing to be a Tarzan. I could sit in tall grass under my favorite oak tree at the edge of the woods for hours waiting for a moose to come out or hoping to spot a hare. The outdoor environment was full of magic and meaning and charged with everyday revelations about nature and about myself.
Another important element of my childhood was the fact that my parents encouraged my interest by giving me geography atlases and nature encyclopaedias. They were far from being naturalists themselves – just regular people sharing a caring sentiment about the natural world.
[ m e m o r y:
…I come home from school. I eat cookies with milk and go to my room. My parrot is greeting me with a trill and starts flying around in the room. I take my current favorite book from the shelf, full of anticipation – I am going to read about the ocean – AGAIN. The encyclopaedia is on marine life. It is a voluminous tome with vivid photographs and rich texts. I open it at random and study a photo of a derelict monster fish – it looks horrifyingly sad. I flip through the book, lost in my imaginary world. I am hoping that someday I will see some of these creatures but at the moment I don’t even know what a real sea looks and feels like, let alone an ocean… ]
A place of particular awe for me was a smelly stream that ran near our apartment building. Its banks were overgrown with various grasses and its muddy waters were full of life – insect larvae, polliwogs, and an occasional fish. It was my own little wildlife observatory.
During the teenage years, nature was my refuge. When I was in eighth grade, I went through a truancy period when I was regularly skipping school for no easily understood reason. I would take my schoolbag with me in the morning, leave the apartment, and go into the forest. I would spend up to six hours there, alone. Often I would climb a tall tree and sit in it for a long time just observing what went on down there – not much usually: a bird skipping on the ground or a stray human passing by with a dog. I was alert to sounds. The perceived silence was in fact filled with aural stimuli. The wind made trees talk. I listened…
[ m e m o r y:
I am probably six years old. I am spending winter at my grandmother’s in Estonia. We live in a small private house with a big garden. The two bird cherry trees are my favorites. It is early March and I feel that nature is preparing to wake up. I break off a small twig from one of the bird cherry trees and put it in a glass with water inside the house. A week or ten days later I discover that the twig has grown roots and is about to bloom. I am the happiest person ever.]
Being in a forest is a very comforting feeling. I feel sheltered by trees. I believe they connect with the cosmos in a very special way – graceful, bizarre transmitters of energy. They grow straight towards the sky. They have managed to harness the solar energy in a manner no other living organism has. TREES are magnificent. They are NATURE to me in the purest form.