pühapäev, november 18, 2007

Fred Jüssi

I recently finished reading "A Sense of Estonia" by Estonian naturalist Fred Jüssi. 'Naturalist' is what you call people who like to hang out in the woods with cameras, journals, and recording equipment.

Naturalists, like Jüssi, also know things, like the names of trees, birds, et cetera. Not only that, they know the songs of birds, their migration patterns, how they rear their young. They observe the things that we too often ignore and dedicate some of their time to explaining it. Intriguing people, these naturalists.

Jüssi is even more intriguing because he was born on Aruba when his family was stationed there with some connection to the pre-war Estonian government. When I first heard this, I thought it was, excuse me, total bullshit. It just had to be made up. But no, it's true. Fred's from ... Aruba.

I met him once at the Olympia Hotel in Tallinn. It was mid- September 2004 and it was already chilly out in the city. As wild as Estonia's capital gets in the summer, it calms down as soon as September rolls in, bringing its gray skies and ice cool air blowing down from the northeast. "There is a poem about this weather," said Jüssi. "It's by Juhan Liiv. Sügisetuul raputab puud."

Every time it gets a bit dark and windy out I think of Fred Jüssi, and Juhan Liiv, because of that moment. But I am still intrigued more by Jüssi because I know that besides being a naturalist, he lives in Tallinn, has been married, has kids -- so where exactly did he find all the time to kill in a cabin on Hiiumaa?

I can imagine that if I bought a camera and told my naine that I was going to disappear for the weekend to the west coast to record the songs of tits and swallows and photograph ice, she'd be a bit cross with me. But Jüssi managed to fit nature into his life in an important way. How he continues to do it, I will never know, but it is certainly a feat worthy of respect.

10 kommentaari:

Blogaddict ütles ...

Justin,

Do you consider Estonian society softer or harsher than American society? I know, NY is pretty tough, but perhaps you have also a general American experience that you can draw from to make a comparison?

To answer that, it might take a whole evening, but if you had to sum it up, what would you say?

identiteedivargus ütles ...

There are two very fine lectures by Fred Jüssi available at ylikool.ee.

Kristopher ütles ...

I've seen him bicycling in Tallinn a couple times. Never met him, unfortunately.

Offer (and mean it) to take the kids with you when you go to the hypothetical cabin with your nature recording gear. The majority of the time you will find you end up going by yourself.

Eppppp ütles ...

Here is the link for that book, a very good one... http://www.rahvaraamat.ee/?id=63&no=R043574&PHPSESSID=05b0e8a85c8c41be6c73e4de11aa5de0

Flasher T ütles ...

record the songs of tits and swallows

...so many bad jokes to be made here, I don't know where to start!

Catherine ütles ...

So what is it with Estonia and Aruba? I'm sure Dave Benton came from there too...

Giustino ütles ...

There are some lovely tits in Estonia, Flasher.

Martasmimi ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Martasmimi ütles ...

Catherine said...
So what is it with Estonia and Aruba?

It's the same old, endless issue, for humanity:
People always want what they can't or don't have....
It's Hot in Aruba it's not in Estonia...

4:31 PM

viimneliivlane ütles ...

You may know that going into nature was the only true and honest escape mechanism available during the Soviet Occupation. Books and film were highly censored and therefore unreliable for a population that needed verification of their existence...
Fred Jüssi's wife was an editor and he credits her with the lyricism that now comes naturally to him when he talks about birds, winds, clouds, whatever. They collaborated on his radio program which, people tell me, they would stop whatever they were doing to listen to.