Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rabbit Mountain ~ viita

If you look behind this old pine tree, you will see the bones of the deer beneath it. A viita is a place under a tree that is a sanctuary. Viita also means a cape that you wear; a draping that envelops you and protects you from the elements. The concept of the viita as a restful haven is part of old Finnish poetics; it has been a popular metaphor for death, for the enveloping arms of Maan emo [Mother Earth] that will cradle you when you return to Her. All cares fall away when you enter Her dark earth. My paternal grandfather's family name used to be Viitamaki but somewhere along his early journeys to North America, the viita was lost.

Behind the viita of the old tree is a large bed of crunchy lichen. In the morning the old tree casts its shadow onto the lichen. This lichen sanctuary is a viita of sorts as it is encircled by many old trees, and it is like a silent room. When you walk inside it, everything hushes.

The lichen, if you look closely, is tangled up with years of old pine needles that have fallen from the trees. When you step on it, your footsteps make crunching sounds, and it is a bit like walking on air.

Deer love lichen. It is one of their favorite foods. Maybe this is a munched out spot?

You can see that the lichen is only a thin layer covering the hard, flat rock of the cuesta.

Perhaps the deer was old or sick, or both, and came to its favorite spot to lay down its weary bones, to lay down under the viita of the old sheltering pine.

1 comment:

marja-leena said...

Viita, a Finnish word that I didn't know until now; thank you for this.