On the way to Lahemaa Woods

The real thing...
The real thing...

A more magical  Estonia tale – a visit to Lahemaa woods with my cousin Kaupo and his wife Kadri. Estonia is a tiny country, and these woods are tucked up in the northeast corner – getting close to the Russian border. Though they have been ‘managed’ i.e. harvested and replanted, this particular stand of trees has been here for 1000 years or so. During the soviet era, it was off limits to visitors and has only recently been reopened to the public – so it has had a good long while to get back to its ‘natural’ state.

230908Lahemaa Woods29It was a chilly day in late September – this close to the Arctic circle, autumn begins promptly and the cold sets in. We had a quick lunch at a local traditional restaurant. I am pretty sure these restaurants are not considered typical eateries – where you’d go on a Friday night with your mates – but I could be wrong… we went to several, which served traditional fare, bear sausage, sour milk, and ham chopped into everything… I must learn to photograph my food more often… in any case, it was a large wooden hall, with long tables and benches – warm and cosy. And the food was fast and friendly. I passed on the sour milk in favour of local beer. Some things one must be raised on. The stuffed wild animals on the walls and little woven decorations lent a certain otherworldly touch.

230908Lahemaa Woods36This was followed by a leisurely hour or so at a restored manor house. The owner of this house and his family owned the surrounding lands, upon which the serfs lived. (Serfdom was a form of bondage or slavery where the person belonged to the land. So if the land changed hands, so did the serfs.) Tallinn, the capital, was always a major port in the Hanseatic League – it was never really Estonian until the twentieth century – run by the Germans, Russians or rulers of the day. We were rather enamored of the soviet era vehicles and large stuffed game wandering around the place.

230908Lahemaa Woods27It was off in the country where the Estonians kept the old ways, traditions, songs and language alive. My family, whom my cousin has traced back to the 1600’s, belonged to land around a similar manor – in western Estonia.One little thing that blew my mind as we meandered around was the symbol for the Estonian Post office! This is virtually identical to the symbol used in Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49,” used for the ancient, secret W.A.S.T.E. postal system integral to the story. It is one of my favourite books – one of those that ‘changed my life’ during my most impressionable years, and which I still love reading again and again. And there it was – maybe it was just where I needed it – I don’t know…

It did set me up for Lahemaa Woods. I could tell as we neared, it was full of secrets. And – according to Kaupo, also full of bears and wolves! For the full photo-story – click here. Or if you just want to look at the photos, check out the gallery below. One of these days I’ll tell that story here – but this is not the day…

Published by Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

4 thoughts on “On the way to Lahemaa Woods

  1. What lovely pictures! Actually, where I live in the boogerwoods (West Virginia) looks somewhat like the pictures of Estonia. And, that boar has a cousin whose head is mounted on my husband’s wall in his office. It’s so ugly that I told him that if he hung it anywhere very visible that I would dress it up for each holiday. I would make it into a Santa Boar with hat and jingle bells for Christmas. It would be the talk of the trailerpark when I put rabbit ears on it and hung an Easter basket it from it’s snout for Easter. I had all kinds of ideas for the boar using make-up (ex. the Maybelline mascara that you and I love) and costumes. He didn’t take too kindly to my creative suggestions, though. He hung it in his upstairs office, out of sight and safe from humiliation.
    My BIL is a chemist and works for large corporations. He spent quite a bit of time in Estonia and really liked it.

    I love your blog and GM’s, too.


  2. Barbie, I am so touched by your kind kind words. I have relatives in West Virginia. You’re funnier. Wayyyyyyyyyyy…. and some more…

    As for the boar – I wanted to bring him home, but it wasn’t allowed. We do however have a fijian pygmy perched on the fireplace ready to jump as well as a cannibal New Guinean at the doorway in case vistors get out of hand…

    I love your blog, too. Isn’t it sweet? tingles down the spine…


  3. You have had a beautiful and illustrious journey. Would like to have a similar kind of holiday experience. That’s a nice collection of photos though you missed on the food.


    1. Yes, I do wish I had taken some photos of the food… I have a feeling I will be making a return trip though… I discovered how deeply Estonian I really am during that trip.

      Cheers, Veronica


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