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Big trees like elms, oaks and popples occupy the Hesperia Park in Helsinki. The name ‘Hesperia’ derives from the ancient Greek name of Italy, meaning a fabulous ‘western land’. In the photo, Hesperia Park in November 2016. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

There is a call within us that makes us sensitive to natural beauty — light reflecting from the leaves, birds singing, the wind stroking our faces. If we obscure the calling of nature within us, we’ll probably end up exhausted after living in a constant rush within the concrete jungle. We would miss the nature and feel the need, the need for slow speed, to get away, get back to the trees.

I’m a true child of the temperate zone. I’ve grown up surrounded by forests in every available shade of green. From dark emerald to intense aventurine. When I recently spent some time in an exotic Mediterranean country, the first thing I noticed was the absolute lack of forests in the meaning that I know.

Yes. There were trees but the hot, parched scent of the coniferous trees rushed into my lungs. That made me confused. I’m used to the fact that forest is the first place where the air is freshly moist, chilling your nose. That experience brought me to an understanding. The familiar feel, smell and lushness made me fall in love with Finland so quickly. Finland’s forests remind me of those in my motherland Poland . . . but cubed in intensity.

You see, Finland is one of those rare places, where you can take a stroll in the center of the city through a deep coniferous forest. And that doesn’t surprise anyone.   Being one the biggest exporters of wood and still having about 70 percent of the country’s surface covered in trees — impossible? No, that’s Finland!

And that is one of the things I really appreciate about the country and I respect that. As for me, the ability to maintain flora and fauna in good condition is proof of country’s maturity. Maturity reflecting in the awareness of its citizens.

Knowing your strong sides and living in harmony with your nature is what I wish for every country.
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