A Local Call

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It rained for two days from Thursday night till Saturday noon. The rain clouds hung low and it reminded me of this joke about the region where I live.

An architect was writing a book about Finnish churches and was traveling around the country to visit them all. Soon he noticed that in every church there was a golden phone half hidden in some corned of the church hall with a note next to it reading ‘100€ per minute.’ He wondered about them and especially about the charge, but it took some time before he mustered the nerve to ask what the phone was for.

‘It’s a direct line to God,’ answered the priest in a church in Tampere, ‘You just pick up the phone and God will be at the other end of it.’ The architect thought that not many sinners had the money to pay for such call, but did not comment on the matter.

Where ever in Finland he went, there was the golden phone in every church, and in every church the charge was 100€ per minute. In time his travels took him to Pohjanmaa where land is flat and the sky is vast. In the first church he visited, just as expected, he found a golden phone but here the note read ‘5€ per minute.’ The architect turned to the local priest who was acting as his guide and asked: ‘I know that this phone is a direct line to God and that there is one in every church in Finland, but how come you are charging only 5€ per minute when everyone else is charging 100€?’

‘Oh,’ said the priest, ‘We are so close to Heaven here that it’s a local call.’

Two thirds of the view here is sky. On a sunny day the sky dome swells far above the land, but when the wind blows the clouds fast and down over the landscape the sky hangs low like a ceiling. It definitely is a local call then.

Second Wave

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The main force of the common redpolls stayed for two days. Then they were gone, as quickly as they appeared. Some stayed behind for a few days. There is one in the picture left from centre.

Two days of quiet followed. Then the second wave of northward migratory birds entered the are, and this time is was the bramblings, Fringilla montifringilla (järripeippo). Their flocks formed one bigger ‘super flock’; a friend of mine living about 40 km west from me told that a flock of bramblings appeared to her garden that same day. Apparently during the winter they can form flocks that may have even millions of birds. I’m not sure if I have ever seen bramblings before though I think a may have seen one 15 years ago, but this was something else. That’s odd though, they are one of the most common species  here in Finland. By the way, their Finnish name, järripeippo, comes from the calling sound they make, ‘järr, järr’. You can listen to their calls here.

Few bullfinches, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, (punatulkku) visited also while the bramblings were here. They are so beautifull, regal somehow. While the bramblings were very nervous, jumping around nervously taking flight if anything even seemed to happen, the bullfinches had more nerve. It is rare to see them in the part of town where we live. Bullfinches usually stick to those feeders that are closer to forests and woodlands, and it is really rare to see them after the snow is gone. What a treat!

Now there are only common pigeons visiting us. They often land first on our roof and what a noise that makes! You would not think that landing birds could cause such a rumble as they walk around before they deem it safe to actually land.

Evan Thompson

Professor of Philosophy, University of British Columbia

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