keskiviikko 21. syyskuuta 2011

Mitä olisikaan suomalainen ilman koivua?

Charles François Philibert Massonin ranskasta englanniksi nimellä Secret memoirs of the court of Petersburg (1802) käännetyssä kirjassa on joitakin lyhyitä anekdootteja. Yhdessä kuvataan, miten erinomaisen monella tavalla suomalaiset käyttävät koivua:

Who would say that the birch, a tree in appearance the most sterile, and one of the most despised in the happy countries where the forests abound with fruit-trees, is, in the north of Russia, the most useful and most valuable of all trees? Without the birch, Finland, Ingria, and Esthonia would, perhaps, be deserted; for it is to the inhabitants of those provinces of the same resource as the cocoa-tree to the Indians. The Finlander, above all, subsists almost through this beneficent tree. Of its wood he makes his cart and his implements of husbandry; its outer bark, impenetrable to moisture, serves for roofing the cottages. With the second bark the Finlander makes ropes, mats, and coverings, which serve him for a cloak in rainy weather : he weaves it into baskets, buskins, and sabots, very light and convenient : he makes of it all sorts of kitchen vessels and household utensils. The young shoots of the birch feed him in times of scarsity, and he frequently mixes some in his rye bread; he also makes flour with the tender bark and the alburnum: the shoots of the birch are likewise the common food of the wood-hens, heath-cocks, and all the birds that spend the winter in the north. With the sap of this tree, the Finlander makes a vinegar rather agreeable than otherwise : its leaves serve him for dyeing several stuffs yellow : its gum is a delicacy to him, and he recommends it on several occasions as a remedy: its boughs, in short, furnish him with baskets and brooms; and a woman never goes to a bath without having in her hand a branch of birch to flog herself, and to cover her nakedness when she comes out of it.

The sentimental and captivating author of the Studies of Nature, who has so well observed the admirable contrast which the birch and the fir form in the vast forests of Finland, owed some additional touches of his pencil to that nourishing tree, which, in the north, supplies the place of the beneficent oak, deified by our ancestors.
Koivunmahlasta tehty viinietikka? Uusi vientituotemahdollisuus? Kaiken luetellun totuusarvosta en ole ihan varma, mutta Leena Riihelän blogitekstin perusteella koivunlehdillä pystyy värjäämään tekstiilejä.

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