I haven't been blogging much in the last couple of months, because I've been concen- trating on various other "projects" – not all equally useful, I'm afraid to say. One chore that is useful, or at least necessary, is leaf raking, and after putting it off about as long as I could, I braved a gray drizzle today to get busy on the leaf litter in our yard.
|The fruits of my labor.|
There is a window of opportu- nity – only a few weeks – between when the last leaves finally hit the ground and the first snowfall buries, some- times until the spring thaw, whatever you haven't got around to raking yet.
In reality, our leaf raking is not a big job. We have only four big trees (five if you count our neighbor's maple, which drops a good portion of its bright yellow leaves on our side of the line). The other four trees contributing to our leaf litter are our apple tree, two birches and our venerable oak tree. Luckily, the oak is still around. During some house construction a few years back, it was dinged badly by a backhoes digger, and we thought we might lose it.
I especially prize the oak (tammi in Finnish), because they are rare here. To think of an oak tree as exotic is strange for someone like me who grew up in Georgia, where oaks (at least a dozen different species) are found everywhere. Ubiquitous, you might say. But here in Helsinki, we're right at the northern limit of the one oak species hardy enough to survive the Scandinavian climate.
|The King's Oak.|
I live near an area called Tammisto, which means "Oak Grove". Also not far away is "The King's Oak", an ancient tree situated along the original route of the "King's Road", a postal road laid out between Russia and Norway in the 1300s. The King of Sweden himself supposedly planted the oak tree some 300 years ago. Why he would do that, I can't say, as this was way before "photo op" became practically the only part of a royal's job description.
Our oak is much, much younger than the King's, and with a much less impressive pedigree. But I'm happy to have at least one of its kind in our yard, a small reminder of the more temperate lands where, (in my imagination, on gray days like today) the sun is always shining.