Photo: Erik’s fishing buddy and coach Sören Ruutsoo from Otepää.
“Vee peal” is the title of a new autobiographical novel by Olavi Ruitlane, which has been likened to a new Kevade (“Spring”, the beloved 1912 novel by Oskar Luts).
“Vee peal” is set in the small southern Estonian city of Võru, the author’s home town, in the 1980s and describes his passion for fishing, as well as a plethora of colorful characters he fishes with and who influence his life.
At Metsaülikool (“forest university’), the annual Estonian language & culture seminar week in the forests of Kotkajärve in Ontario, a bright young boy from Pärnu, Erik Martin Ojamaa, was strikingly similar to the young Ruitlane in his enthusiasm for fishing. He arrived with his aunt, MÜ lector and instructor Maarja Lõhmus, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at Tartu Ülikool and ended up catching at least 3 smallmouth bass, like the one seen here, the exact equivalent of which does not exist in Estonia, but is similar to an ahven (perch).
At least one other hefty bass was caught by a hundu (cub scout) in camp the preceding week. Catching was followed by a lesson on gutting (rookimine / rappimine) the fish and they were then cooked in foil in the lõke (campfire) and served to the entire MÜ family as a fantastic late night snack.
One of the themes of this year’s MÜ was koha vaim (the spirit of a place) and eating the delectable meat of a kala (fish) which had spent years in the depths of the very special spiritual body of water that is Kotkajärv, was very special indeed.
Photo: Maimu Mölder
A laevastik (fleet) of red canoes was vee peal simultaneously when the MÜ children tried their arms at sõudmine (paddling) with a mõla (paddle).
MÜ steering committee member Tauno Mölder is (naturally) steering and instructing Marie Teppart (in the vöör or bow) from Tallinn, Eneli Mölder and Getter Liitoja from Saaremaa. Marie, like Erik, came to Kotkajärve with a famous relative, in her case her grandmother, actor Anu Lamp, who held a lecture on the development of the Estonian language and headed a morning language group.
A touching memorial to local poetess and longtime MÜ-lane Urve Karuks was held on the water the night before.
A canoe carried Jaan Seim, principal of the Stockholm Estonian School, across Kotkajärv playing the flute, while people took turns reading Urve’s inspiring poetry.