Here is Linneaus before the kids arrive. Note his horn. We wanted a horn to call the kids after they had run out to play. My mum had an old hunting horn she used to call us in to lunch, so we borrowed it. But would Carl Linneaus, the father of botany, do such a thing? Imagine our delight when we discovered that Linneaus did in fact actually use just such a horn to call his students to botanically thrilling items. Linneaus would then also encouraged his students to call out ‘Vivat Linne!’ – Long live Linneaus! The man had a fairly high opinion of himself. He once said “God created, Linneaus brought order.”
Linneaus (aka Torgrim), met the children for our new project called ‘Skogens Stemme’ or ‘The voice of the forest’ on Hovedøya. This island is in the centre of the Oslo fjord, five minutes boat ride from the town centre and filled with history and rich nature. As he instructed them in Latin, I was hidden up a mighty Ash tree, chuckling to myself as I heard their lusty cries of ‘Vivat Linne!’
I had climbed high up in the tree, sitting on a cushion of green moss, and resting on the broad trunk with my body. Cradled and supported. Hearing the whispers of the leaves in the treetops, louder up here. For some reason I got the image of a kind of invisible blood network going from the tree and into me. And I got questions, big questions of how I come to be alive and why. Then after this immensely long time of about 20 minutes Linneaus comes over and the kids see me and they go kind of demented. You can see some of this on YouTube, filmed by Heli Aaltonen who is researching the project.
The strange thing is though Hazel (me) wakes up and says hallo from the tree, Linneaus cannot for the life of him see or hear me. He finds it extremely annoying that the children go into this fantasy world as he sees it.
Well I understand Linneaus, it is annoying. To see people who are alive and in touch with a living world which at that moment one does not believe exists. Infuriating to see their joy, their relaxation, their contentment whilst you yourself are busy talking to yourself about all the facts that you are sure you know. Pretty soon you may start to feel the world is conspiring against you. The whole world has decided to turn against you! The weather seems against you, the pavement, or the dogs, the buses and perhaps most of all the people.
Poor Linneaus, maybe it’s the medicine of the massive ego? But the enthusiasm of the kids melts him and the sight of his namesake the mighty Linden tree, with leaves shaped in the form of a heart reminds him of a fairy tale. That first day with the kids seemed like a fairy tale to me. A very chaotic fairy tale, a bit out of control at times. A fox joined us – joined the forty 9 year olds and 4 adults and he stayed with us for over an hour. He was young and clear and seemed curious about who we were. He just kept coming back, following us around. After some time he also realized we could give him bits of sandwich.
Perhaps it was the wand made of Rowan that did it?