Photos and Words

A personal blog about thoughts | moods | photos by Arnaldo Pellini

Posts from the ‘landscape’ category

Shoun and His Mother

Pyhäjärvi, Tampere 2022

A wonderful Zen story that I re-discovered this week thanks to a friend and which gave me confort. It is from an old little book I bought in 1989 in Cremona (Italy) which was published by the Italian publisher Adelphi: 101 Storie Zen (101 Zen Stories) by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps.

Shoun and His Mother

Shoun became a teacher of Soto Zen. When he was still a student his father passed away, leaving him to care for his old mother.

Whenever Shoun went to a meditation hall he always took his mother with him. Since she accompanied him, when he visited monasteries he could not live with the monks. So he would build a little house and care for her there. He would copy sutras, Buddhist verses and in this manner receive a few coins for food.

When Shoun bought fish for his mother, the people would scoff at him, for a monk is not supposed to eat fish. But Shoun did not mind. His mother, however, was hurt to see others laugh at her son. Finally she told Shoun: “I think I will become a nun. I can be a vegetarian too.”

She did and they studied together. Shoun was fond of music and was a master of the harp, which his mother also played. On full-moon nights they used to play together.

One night a young lady passed by their house and heard music. Deeply touched, she invited Shoun to visit her the next evening and play. He accepted the invitation. A few days later he met the young lady on the street and thanked her for her hospitality. Others laughed at him. He had visited the home of a woman of the streets.

One day Shoun left a distant temple to deliver a lecture. A few months afterwards he returned home to find his mother dead. Friends had not known where to reach him, so the funeral was then in progress.

Shoun walked up and hit the coffin with his staff. “Mother, your son has returned,” he said. “I am glad to see you have returned son,” he answered for his mother.

“I”m glad too,” Shoun responded. Then he announced to the people about him: The funeral ceremony is over. You may bury the body.”

When Shoun was old he knew his end was approaching. He asked his disciples to gather around him in the morning telling them he was going to pass on at noon. Burning incense before the picture of his mother and his old teacher, he wrote a poem:

For sixty years I lived as best I could,
Making my way in this world.
Now the rain has ended, the clouds are clearing,
The blue sky has a full moon.

His disciples gathered about him, reciting a sutra, and Shoun passed on during the invocation.

Winter roads

Winter roads, Niinikumppu 2021

The road is not slippery even though it is covered by a thick layer of dry snow. The air is clear. It is -15 Celsius and no forecast of snowfall. It will be a nice drive. We will get there on time.

Lake walk

Lake walk, Kontiola 2021

The lake is frozen now and a thick layer of snow stops the noises that the ice layers makes. Cracks, pangs, and bubbling sound between water and ice. The snow is like a blanket that puts everything on hold until the temperature starts to rise, the days will get longer, and spring will push to open the door of the winter.

The old house

The old house, Kontiola 2021

Over the years when passing by this wooden house near Kontiola, I have wondered whether it is abandoned or not. I never saw a light on in it. Now, in the winter, the window has a thick layer of ice which means that the house is not heated.

The house sits in the middle of a field. It keeps the grey and brown colour of old wood. There are a couple of pine trees next to it like standing guard. That’s it. Season after season the house stands there.

A family must have lived there? When was that? How long ago did they live? What was their life? Who was the last one living there? Did they have to clear the field from the forest? How hard was it to live there?

I guess it is my curiosity, but I wonder about these questions every time I pass next to it when I am in Eastern Finland visit our relatives

Early morning encounter

Treeline, Niinikumppu 2021

Some of the photos in this blog are not linked to the blog post I write. That is because I do not have the camera with me at all times. I am reviewing the photos I took in the end of the year in Eastern Finland, while getting on with life here in Tampere.

Early in the morning on Friday, I was out for the morning walk with our dog. I went to the park nearby on the lakeshore. At one point I was walking towards the woman who was also out with her dog. As usually, my dog got on alert and stopped. He would not move. The woman walk a bit more towards us and then stopped as well, her dog on alert as well. We were about 10 meters apart. She said something in Finnish which id di not get. I said anteekesi? (sorry?). She saw that I was not from here maybe from the accent, maybe from the way I look and shook her head moving with her dog into the deep snow on the side of the path. She did not want the dog to meet. She was walking in the deep snow and I said again anteeksi? She kept walking. I then said voit puhua! (you can talk!) She stopped. She was a bit distant now. Siad again something I did not catch and walked away.

I was upset when I turned around to walk towards home. I felt again as the foreigner. But what did it mean? Why did she get so upset? Why wouldn’t she make an effort to communicate with me? I kept walking, hearing the snow crunching under my boots in the sub-zero temperature. My dog kept sniffing things. Pulling right and left oblivious of the encounter we just had. it was just another dog.

I was still upset imagining reasons as to why she would have reacted like that towards me. Maybe she had a bad night. Maybe it was the dog walk after a night shits and she was super tired. Maybe she just doe snot like foreigners. Maybe she feels uncomfortable when she realises that she cannot use Finnish with another person.

I told myself to stop figuring out things that were impossible to figure out. There is certainly a story behind that person (See Gregory Bateson). Our stories touched for a brief moment and that’s is. No more and no less.

At the same time, I thought about the bus driver who politely greets passengers on the city busses. The guy who came to the door of the swimming pool and kindly explained to me that it was closed due to Covid.

I have many of these examples and want to remember them more than the encounter of Friday morning. They are part of the same system of complex interrelationships I live in.

As simple and complex as that.

The old trees

The old trees, Niinikumppu 2022

I remember when the top of the Niinikumppu hill was full of trees. It had always been like that. Then, a couple of years ago during the summer, a strong storm hit the hill and many (if not most) of the old pine trees fell. Luckily no buildings were damaged. It took a while the clear the hill from the fallen trees. This morning I was walked past the hill and took the photo of the few trees that were strong enough to sustain the storm. The hill looks barren but it is recovering. In no time there will be younger trees next to the the ones.

The first sunset of the year

The first subset of the year, Kontiola 2022

The first day of the year. I am bed with running nose and maybe some temperature. The home C19 kit test gave a Neg result. I asked my daughters to take some photos when they went cross country skiing on the lake. The light must have been magical.

In the cottage I watched a nice documentary about Italy at Euro 2020. Good memories and an emotional watching Gianluca Vialli reading to the team a quote from a book before the final.

I followed the Euro thread and searched for Gareth Southgate interviews post final and post tournament. I also found this interview at a conference in Cambridge several months after the defeat in the Euro final. It is quite inspiring. He is achieving something more than football wins.

And thank you V for the great photo you took for me. Nice start of the year.

Happy new year to all!

Let’s look forward

Let’s look forward, Kontiola 2021

Read this quite from the head of NASA: ‘We are all citizens of planet hearth.‘

Let’s stop messing up with the planet. Let’s look forward.

Happy new year to all of you, wherever you are.

A quote from Pascal

Tree line, Niinikumppu 2021

Today I found an interesting quote in an Italian book I am reading.

It is from Pascal and says (in Italian):

‘Pascal scrive che noi riusciamo a conoscere la verità non soltanto con la ragione, ma anche con il cuore. Però Pascal, con la parola cuore, non allude ai sentimenti, bensì alla capacità originaria di riconoscere l’evidenza.’

Past one pm

Pyhäjärvi, Kontiola 2021

It is just past one pm here in Kontiola. I am walking on the frozen Pyhäjärvi. The sun has started to go down and it will be dark by three pm. The temperature is about -20C and the cold seems to have stopped all the sounds and movements. Everything is still and quiet. I hear my crunchy footsteps on the frozen snow. Look up to the horizon and feel happy to be part of all this.

Reflections

Reflections, Ihamaniemi 2021

It was nice to go down to the shoreline the other night and look at the still water of the lake reflecting the sunset sky. There was no wind and the colour of the water almost matched the colour of the sky

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