Really-really quiet. Complete silence is not the word to describe it. It’s deafening. One of your senses is blocked out. If you are careless, you can break it. I mean – the silence. Your clothes can rustle, you may breath too loudly (yes, you must keep your breath), you may be too excited and hear blood whistle in your ears. If the physique is under control, the mind can open. Wow! Your thoughts take most unexpected turns. Is that really who I am – you start to wonder. Are those really my genuine ideas or just dreams?

This is what happens if you are standing in the snow of Estonian forest. You are most probably about 3 hour drive from the medieval capital, in a small county called Võru. This is the place, where you can find more moose, rabbits, wild boars or fox than humans. Yes, it’s probably cold, you need many layers on to feel warm and secure.
If spring comes to Võru, the mystical silence is broken for more than half a year. All of a sudden, you are surrounded by most joyous sounds possible to meet. At first, it’s starling’s versatile vocals, soon it’s frogs dedicated choir. Now you must turn your eyes and ears out from yourself and see the rhythms and beauty around you.
It’s said, that Estonians don’t need modern brainstorming techiques, to come up with brilliant ideas. Yes, Estonians are widely considered to be innovative nation. They usually go to forest. Alone. All they take, is a wicker basket. They need it for berries or mushrooms. Being in forest, alone, and picking berries or mushrooms in ancestral way is a form of meditation. They never wear earphones in the forest. How ridiculous could that be!
Estonians in general are believed to be one of the least religious people in Europe. It is only partly true, as faith isn’t widely discussed in Estonia. But people living close to nature, especially in Võru, still act respectfully towards all spirits of the nature, as did their ancestors. If you turn to average person in Võru and ask if he is religious, he will probably say no. But if you inquire more, you’ll find them to be very confident about „something“ guiding their lives.
Võru’s way of life is simple and honest. It’s said, that people in Võru smile more often than people usually do at this lattitude. They are usually straightforward, helpful and they love good laugh. Hospitality is already in their DNA. Each guest is a gift and expected company.
Võru’s way of life is easily experienced, as there are plenty of small cabins for rent in the woods and in towns and villages. Retreat among these people in the middle of these forests and next to those lakes will be purifing experience. To put it modestly.

Photo: At the dam of lake Vagula (Piret Ahman).