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Giant Tree

In memoriam

 

It is my sad duty to inform you that after a long and eventful life our Dear Friend - and the genuine, original old-timer of all times - The Giant Tree - died in August 2004.

It was born in the kingdom of Sweden in the year 1518 as Sten Sture Jr was the king of the country (1512-1520). That very year the king-to-be Gustaf Vasa sat in prison - to one day make it to the throne - and among other things establish a number of towns on the Finnish soil - one of them being Helsinki - in 1550...

A multitude of wars took place in the remote Nordic country of Sweden as the years and decades went by. Kings were born - just to mention Gustaf II Adolf - who then died in a battle of Lüzen in Germany in 1632.

1700's was another century of fierce fights - some of them touching our Giant Tree at close distance as Russia invaded Finland 1714-21 - hard times to all participants...

Good news came in form of a Swedish scientist Carl von Linné (1707-1778) who created the classification of living things, Systema Naturae, where the Giant Tree got a fancy name in Latin, Pinus sylvestris...

In 1800's there was Napoleon, and a bunch of other warriors - but as seen from the Giant Tree's hill - the man to watch - as he literally went by the Pyhä-Häkki forest - was a Swedish general Wilhelm Mauritz Klingspor (1744-1814) whose skills in leading an army were below all standards: All of a sudden in 1809 the Giant Tree was told that at the moment it is growing in a Russian grand duchy Finland...

Almost one century later - in 1912 - the Giant Tree, by then quite a sight - was told that the area all around it, several square kilometers in fact - was protected from all use of timber and land! What a relief - after all those years...

Just a few years later - there was a new flag in every pole all around the area! The message was clear: Finland had gained independence December 6th 1917 - everybody said that was a piece of good news - no doubt about it!

In 1938 there were rumors - and even some activity - to declare Pyhä-Häkki and a number of other protected areas into the status of a national park. There is some evidence in the trunk of the tree even today: It was drilled chest-high (130 centimeters above the ground) to find out how old it was - and the result then showed  420 years - yes, 420 years.

But - unfortunately all the nation's men (and women!) were needed for some much more important: World War II had begun and the Finns were busy keeping their land intact so the tree and the park were left alone for quite some time.

But 1956 made the world of difference: Pyhä-Häkki was among the new national parks - and proud of being so - and the Giant Tree - and everybody enjoyed the decision!

New trails were established, duckboards were built - the tree's prayer was there (see below: You who pass by me, hear my prayer before you  do any harm to me, I am a gift of God and friend to people, you who pass by me, hear my prayer, don't harm me!) - everything was fine, really. More and more people came to see and greet the Giant Tree - more and more languages appeared in the guest book - up to 10 000 visitors came to see the park every year.

Since 1990's there were guides in the park. Information was given to all visitors, maps were printed, pictures taken - and so it was in the new millenium, of course. There were less and less green needles in the top crown of the Giant Tree - in 2004 there were just a few green patches on top of the branches. The guide told people: If you make it quick, you may still see the Giant Tree alive! Many thought it was just a joke - but as it could be seen on August 1st, 2004 - all the green needles had turned brown, yes, brown. And that is the sign of being dead in tree world. The Giant will stay upright most likely another 150-200 years - the next visible thing will be all needles dropping down and finally the bark falling off the trunk, most likely a bird makes a nest in one of the holes - and that is where life goes on in the tree...

 

So - my Dear Reader - we have come along way together... It was a great life - it was a great tree - don't turn your back now - make it to the park - to see what is left - it's still worth it! And the Giant Tree would like you to come - for sure!

 

Risto  Pynnönen

 

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