The Silent landscape of Finland

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Our allotments in the winter. On the right you see clear ground where the snow did not touch and on the left you have drifts up to 24 inches

I remember a few years ago being in Finland about 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle amidst the snow. It was so quiet, you could almost hear your own heartbeat. I found that it massively increased my sensitivity which is normally fairly high and I became sensitive to the sound of dripping water, the crack of a twig 50 m away, the cry of a bird high up in the sky.

This memory came back to me when I visited my allotment today. Animal tracks were all over the place and one plot holder had visited his shed a few hours earlier. The point is that it was quiet but more than quiet I can say silent. I realise how much noise we are forced to tolerate every day or have to put up with so that we are not shocked by for example the toot of a car horn or the sirens of a police car or 50 cycle mains hum of the fact that her mobile phone may go off. We have to be in a permanent state of alert in order to protect ourselves both physically and from the possibility of shock emotional or otherwise

I can understand why people want to take refuge from the world and live on their own. When I was in Finland amidst all the snow, far from feeling alone or lonely, I felt at one with the universe. I entered into a realm of timelessness. No, I did not see the Northern Lights but the stars shone amazingly brightly, thousands upon thousands of them.

The poet William Blake was undoubtedly a visionary and I’m reminded of his poem which included the verse

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wildflower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour

people may not know the next couple of lines

A robin redbreast in the cage
Puts all heaven in a rage”

It is very important that poems are read aloud in public. It is important not only that they are read but where they are read. If this poem had been read to me when I was standing outside in the snow in Finland it would have had an even bigger effect than it had on me when I was first exposed to it.

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In Midsomer Norton today there was a certain buzz as people took advantage of the last of the snow before it melted. People were walking along the road in the slush pulling their snowboards, laughing and talking and in general displaying the festive spirit. Most of the shops were closed. The British are supposed to be rather reserved but today I didn’t see anything of that. I don’t think it takes much for people to start talking to each other. It can be such a thing as a downpour of rain, a road accident, waiting a long time for the bus, and then people chat away as if they have known the complete stranger in front of them for years.

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The lady herself

Today, I had a new enquiry for a plot on my allotments. She has an interesting surname of  Smrckova which is originally Czechoslovakian. The surname rang a bell. I remember seeing a programme on TV about a glasswork village so with a little research found what I was looking for, the work by Ludvika Smrckova 1923-1983. I wrote back to the Inquirer asking her if she was related to this family. She said she was not aware of it but would ask her grandmother.
The applicant told me that she used to have a big garden with some fruit trees and plants and she grew all sorts of root vegetables, pumpkins and tomatoes. She has spent the last 24 years in the garden nearly every day and she really misses it because she’s now in a house with a tiny garden without any chance of growing vegetables.

It is this type of person that I really want to help. Due to the greed of modern builders, they deliver postage stamp size gardens with little more than a few square metres of lawn, a nominal bed down one side, a small patio say 4 m x 2 m, and somewhere to hang the washing. This lady is obviously a victim of this but that is perhaps slightly too strong a word.

A strawman keeping an eye on the allotments

Today I watched a news special on the weather given by Channel Four. I noticed one thing that the interviewer just let the person speak and did not interrupt after the first few words. This is why I find the interviewing styles of the BBC for example so irritating. This is true both on radio and television. Count the number of times a person is interrupted when they are halfway through a point. If I ever get to be on television I will wait for the interruption to end and then continue on my original point until it is made. If the Powers that Be don’t like it – then tough.

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