• Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

A sacrifice

The Taiga is an endless forest. Low birch and spruce trees as far as the eye can see. Eastern Finland is nearly deserted and the border with Russia close by. Dusty tracks end soon somewhere in the nowhere. In the air the resinous scent of pine. A rickety bridge over a creek. Mosquitoes dance in millions. The forest opens to a wide area behind two hills, on it a wooden house in slumber. Nikolai’s house.

The wind freshens and blows across the expanse, gusts shake the planks, rocks the juniper. It is a strange mood of loneliness and forlornness. Birch with pale bark are standing like ghosts at the edge of the bog. A boardwalk is leading into it. Wet with dew, moss and lichens are weaving green curtains on birch and spruce.

The cuckoo calls at the end of the day, the late evening sun casts a spooky light on the misty bog with dead trees and a black wall of clouds over it. The dusk is the time of hunters: a raven’s call nearby, a raven’s call as answer from afar. In the forests are wolves and bears.

Suddenly the birds stop singing. A bear stands up on his hind legs at the border of the forest, the coat has a light-yellow shade like caramel, a wolf attacks him. A young wolf. Out of fear? The bear gives him a blow with his paw, and throws him into the brackish water. Nikolai shouts into the forest. The bear runs away, the young wolf drags himself towards him. He looks at him with his shiny yellow eyes. The tale of the Big Bad Wolf is just a tale. Wolves are shy and gentle.

The wolf is bleeding. Nikolai gets his only bottle of vodka and cleans his wounds. The wolf is peaceful and grateful. And he will stay with Nikolai, who gives him goat yoghurt. His last cup. And bandages his leg. He has no dressing material. Nikolai takes his only white shirt and tears it into strips. The nearest shop is 80 km away. It is a sacrifice to care for this pathfinder, this mediator between worlds, moon-dog of his soul, howling and singing, archetype of freedom and mysticism.

The ice age hunters

Painted on cave walls

The animals surrounding them.

Souls of wolves and bears

they took possession of

by means of colours.

To honour the animal --

it was sacred.

Image was picture spell.

Substitute for the real world,

elevated and powerful,

lasting and beautiful.

Magical and romantic incantation.