KAI FAGERSTRÖM | The Relationship

Relationship

 

Väinö

 

Near our summer cottage there is a small old croft. There lived Väinö Lehtonen, a Santa Claus looking old man. He liked nature. He fed animals in the summer and in the winter. As a child, it amazed me that squirrels came to eat seeds from his hand. Väinö lived modestly. Electricity or other amenities there was not, and probably he did not need or miss them. Joy of life came from quite different sources. Snow, migratory birds and other small things from nature. He taught me a lot. And he told me about hobgoblins.

 

Yesterday

 

Summer vacation had begun. As a confirmation gift I had gotten money to buy an old moped. I had refused to come to the countryside for the summer. City and friends were more interesting. But at some point, the idea of a weekend at the cottage attracted me. My hair was flying in the wind and my chest was raised proudly as I drove through the forest road towards Väinö´s cottage. Oh, the freedom and spirit of youth. A racoon dog walked past me near the pond, but Väinö was nowhere to be seen. It would have been nice to have a word with him, and to present my fine Solifer. When I got back to the cabin I asked my parents if they knew about Väinö. He was at the hospital. He had sawn his thigh to the bone with a circular saw. I did not see Väinö until the following weekend. On Sunday night when we were going home, my dad drove by his croft. Väinö was at the sugar beet field. He was crawling. He had not asked anybody’s help and he must have been in need of it. "Dotty old idiot", my father said.

 

Today

 

The place where I stand used to be a good site to spot goshawks. Väinö showed it to me many years ago. I am surrounded by many acres of forest slashing. The sight is horrible, not a single tree was left standing. The ground has been raped by some machine from hell and dry branches make walking difficult. With anger and sadness I look for the tree where there used to be a goshawk nest. I easily find the tree stump. Only last summer, in this forest I photographed goshawk chicks. I made many trips here with my kids. They had believed me when I told them that hobgoblins live here. My youngest daughter even claimed to have found a hobgoblin footprint.

Väinö died ten years ago. His sauna caught fire and he burned while trying to turn it off. The house is still standing and looks from inside just like Väinö still lived there. All of his belongings and clothes are still in their places. At the edge of the field is his shovel. Like a grave stone. "Goshawk has nested here for as long as I can remember", said Väinö thirty years ago. I pick up a hawk wing feather and I cry. Somewhere inside I realise that I miss my childhood …