When I was a little girl, my grandpa used to sing to me: “Julia, your footprints linger in the moss.” We used to walk together on soft moss which hardly covered the rocky ground and you didn’t have to be an expert to realise that this was once the bottom of the sea. Through sparse trees, mainly ash, rowan, whitebeam and one frail but graceful apple tree, you could glimpse the sea, a captivating light the likes of which you rarely see. Even a child could sense that a moment like this is fleeting, for it is too beautiful to last forever.
Tagaranna offers many breathtakingly beautiful and unique moments. Every sunrise and sunset is special: at dawn, the sun rises from the sea to the murmur of fishing boats, to become one with the sea again at dusk, and seabirds start and end their day in the same rhythm. It is the combination of the sea and the forest, the fragile nature – colours, smells, the sky and the wind – which for me are the phenomena of Saaremaa and particularly Tagaranna.
Tying your life to Tagaranna and Saaremaa is a lifestyle. It is a different way of thinking, an entirely different way of being and breathing than anywhere else, a sort of an addiction. Normal people would consider it utter madness to drive for hours from Tartu, Tallinn or even abroad to get here, to the end of ends, to this island with its chilly sea, constant winds and barren rocky ground, which still manages to grow very tasty carrots.
Heli Lääts has allegedly once said that she forgets all the worries of the mainland on the Väinatamm causeway and I think of that every time I cross the causeway and see the white swans. Yes, it is true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are released from all worries – they are just replaced by Saaremaa worries, as well as Saaremaa joys. Before we had any children, my husband and I would work away in the garden and by the sea all summer, until we once discovered while thinning a thicket that we had two beautiful birches almost by the sea. We simply hadn’t noticed them before, only cherishing the birches planted by my grandpa and us in the garden. We then placed garden chairs on the beach and sat beside our newly found birches to admire the sea and the evening sun, when we suddenly realised that the last day of our holiday ended with that sunset. Just as we were finally ready to enjoy the surrounding nature and the fruits of our work, we had to leave. Still, working outdoors is also a kind of a holiday, different from everyday paid work.
I can no longer remember when I first came to Tagaranna – it feels as if I’ve always been here. The first time was most probably at such an early age that I am simply unable to recall it – which means that my ties with Tagaranna have been close almost since birth. I have studied and worked and lived in different countries, cities and places, but have always returned to my roots at Tagaranna.
Tagaranna people and the local fishermen – who are no ordinary fishers – have always been especially witty and wise: they care for their own and are polite to strangers.
The Tagaranna Village Society eagerly seized an idea from writer Maimu Berg – who also has roots in Tagaranna – to start organising literature days in the village. The first Literature Day was held in the summer of 2019 and entailed an exhibition of paintings by artists Hugo Mitt and Aleksander Tarvis, who also have ties with Tagaranna, as well as a communal singing party, endless delicacies and interviews with several recognised writers all culminating with a poetry and flute performance by Doris Kareva and Jaanika Lentsius at sunset. In 2021, Tagaranna Literature Day invites everyone to visit again. This time, we are planning to expand the event to the gardens of various farms.
Having read the above, you most probably don’t find it surprising that I love Tagaranna with everything I am – this was my childhood playground with a shed for pine cone animals and a bird cemetery underneath the lilac bush, as well as the place where I published a home magazine on rainy days, studied for university and doctoral exams, tended my small vegetable plot and did my first gardening work, wrote textbooks and, together with my husband, a dictionary, where my husband and I tried our hand at sailing and learnt to eat plaice, from smoked and fried plaice to dried plaice, and this is where I raised my children. From here, I have picked up my grandma’s teachings, her expressions and vocabulary for life.
I wear the local folk dress with pride both while singing at the Song Festival and festive events in Estonia and abroad, where the beautiful costume with its magnificent coif leaves a particularly strong impression. I have been baptised, confirmed and wed and have had my youngest son baptised in Mustjala Church. None of my children can imagine their life without Tagaranna – they yearn to come here and they bloom here, celebrating both birthdays and Christmases at Tagaranna.
It feels so good and warm to be here in every season and in any weather – in a cold and crisp spring blue with hepaticas, in a golden autumn dotted with red rose and rowan berries, or in a terrifying storm.
The motto of Tagaranna: Tagaranna, where your spirit soars and the plaice smokes!
My recommendation with regard to Saaremaa: if you can, come to Tagaranna Literature Day and see for yourself how spirits soar at this end of all ends!
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