Timothée Bertoni by Alvin Tang for August Man
Iceland shifted from foot to foot a bit uncomfortably in the hallway, unsure where he could bring the conversation from here. He was a bit frustrated with himself- he was the one who showed up suddenly on Estonia’s porch. He should have at least had some idea of what he wanted to talk to the other man about. “Sounds like a nice break… you should go more often,” Iceland offered, wishing that he had the time and money to take some kind of extended vacation like that. “Yeah, sounds good…” Iceland replied with a small nod, grateful that Estonia seemed to not be bothered by his presence. “It’s a bit late for coffee… maybe a beer?” Iceland felt a bit awkward making the suggestion for alcohol, but it was the only thing he could think to ask for besides awkwardly refusing and sitting in silence on Estonia’s couch. “It’s been awhile since we were drinking together…” Iceland added after a moment’s thought. He was fairly certain that the last time involved the other Nordics, and maybe a few other nations. His memory of that night were sadly a bit hazy. After a moment, a slight smirk came to his face. “I think it was the night we all ended up in the woods with flashlights… I don’t remember what we were looking for, though…”
Estonia didn’t miss a beat, “Beer it is. I’ll be back. You just focus on getting comfortable,” he smiled before running off to the kitchen. He opened up his fridge and curiously looked around. He had completely forgot to ask what kind of beer he wanted or if he wanted his drink in a glass. Danish, Finnish, Russian, Estonian… the choices seemed endless. But good ol’ Estonian beer was (of course) his favourite so he grabbed two bottles of Viru, some glasses from a nearby cupboard, and a bottle opener. He walked back towards the living room and found Iceland sitting comfortably on the small sofa and looking around the room. His presence caught Iceland’s attention when Estonia placed the items on the coffee table and went and sat next to him. “I forgot to ask if you wanted your drink in a glass so I brought some just in case you wanted one,” he said as he opened up both the bottles and handed one to Iceland. “I remember that night. Well, sort of,” he laughed, “Someone ran off into the woods and we went in after them after they thought it would be a great idea to play hide and seek. I don’t remember who it was. Some of us were horribly wasted that night.”
Iceland gave a small nod, relieved though he tried not to show it. At least he hadn’t completely alienated Estonia by being too busy to contact him sooner. He really needed to be better about all of this… years of isolation wasn’t really a good excuse anymore- not when he had been independent for almost seventy years. “That’s good… I wouldn’t want to keep you from work or anything.” Iceland wasn’t sure what else he could say, standing in an awkward silence before Estonia asked for his coat. “Yeah… thank you.” Iceland quickly shrugged himself out of his coat and handed it to Estonia, hesitating before he spoke again. “It’s been awhile since I could visit… has everything been alright?…” Iceland wished he could think of something other than small talk, but for the moment he was struggling with what exactly to say. “… Your house still looks good…”
“I’ve been alright,” he said as he took Iceland’s jacket and hung it up in the tiny closet. “You know me, I always have my face buried in my work,” he laughs, “But I’m looking to get away once the weather gets warmer. I think I’ll escape to the countryside, maybe by the coastline and go boating.” Estonia wasn’t quite sure what to say. His life was average and mostly uneventful so there wasn’t much he could say. Instead, he was much more curious about how others were doing. He didn’t have company stop by often so he loved to listen to others talk about their daily lives. “I fixed this place up a bit during the winter,” he smiled, remembering the last comment Iceland had said, “I’m happy to hear that it still looks nice.” After a brief period of silence, Estonia realized that they had been standing in the hallway for some time. “Why don’t we get comfortable and continue this in the living room? Did you want anything to drink? Coffee? Tea? Alcohol? You name it, I probably have it.”
Myths from Estonia
- Legend of Taevaskoja - Once upon a time the Devil was walking on the banks of the Ahja river. He liked the beautiful high banks of the river and he decided to live there but he did not have the shelter. The devil did not want to build the shelter on the ground because people could see it and would come to disturb him. Then he decided to dig a small cave from the bank of the river. Reaching deeper and deeper he built a lot of rooms, one more beautiful than the other. He liked his new home so much that he called it Taevaskoda ( Heaven home). He lived in his beautiful rooms quietly but he had a problem of getting bread. There was a field where he got the grain, but he could not grind it. Then the Devil decided to build a mill. The Whirlwind saw the Devil building and decided to play him a trick He gathered his strength and shook the walls of the mill. The logs flew in different directions. The Devil stopped building the mill and left the caves of Taevaskoja.
- The church of Põlva - According to the legend the church was meant to be built on a sacred place of the Estonians. They did not like it. Every morning the walls that had been built the last day had crumbled. It lasted for a long time. Then they went to a wise man for advice and he replied, ”The walls of the church will remain up if you immure an innocent girl inside the walls in kneeling position.”
The congregation chose a girl named Mary. The mason made a hole where to fit Mary in kneeling position and the hole was closed with a large curb. The second hole was made to give her bread and water to keep her alive. Afterwards they closed that hole too and the walls stayed up. Mary was immured in the wall of the church in kneeling position and thus the place was called Põlva. ( Estonian word põlv means knee in English)
- The Little Old Man of Ülemiste Lake - The little old man of Ülemiste lake is a creature from Estonian mythology who according to the legend lived near Tallinn in Ülemiste lake. People think that when Tallinn will be completely finished the little old man will drown the town. Because of that every person who meets the little old man has to tell him that Tallinn will never be completely finished.
When the door wasn’t slammed in his face, Iceland figured that he was off to a good start. “No, not at all… I just got here,” Iceland replied, stepping across the threshold of Estonia’s house with a small nod. “Thanks…” Iceland hesitated, looking away from Estonia, a bit embarrassed. “I was just in the area on some business… I thought I should pay you a visit.” Iceland shrugged a bit, not really wanting to say why he thought it was time for a visit. Iceland certainly wasn’t going to bring up his guilt for not contacting Estonia sooner if the other man didn’t realize it himself. “I can go though if you’re busy or something…” Though Iceland took it as a good sign that he had been invited inside, he knew better then to assume it was alright for him to stay.
“That’s not necessary, I was just doing some reading in my library. I appreciate you stopping by!” Estonia said, hoping it would reassure him as he shut the door behind him. He had picked up sense of worry when he took notice of some Iceland’s facial expressions and began to wonder if everything was alright. But Estonia didn’t want to pry into it. If Iceland wanted to talk to him about it, he figured he would bring it up eventually. Instead, he just wanted to make sure Iceland was comfortable in his home. “I’m glad I didn’t keep you waiting. I couldn’t hear your knocks all that well from the top floor so I was worried that I had missed you,” he smiled. “I’ll take your coat if you don’t mind?”
Iceland stood outside Estonia’s home, partially wondering what he was doing there in the first place. He had a small bit of business to take care of with his foreign office in Talinn, but he usually didn’t call on other nations just because he crossed into their land. If he was really being honest with himself, guilt brought him to Estonia’s door. They were on relatively good terms, and yet Iceland had only been able to give him a brief greeting when he had come back from his break. It might have been a stupid idea to come at all, but if Estonia didn’t have time for him or didn’t want to see him, then he could always go back to Reykjavik. He just didn’t feel like he was doing what little friendship they had justice by disappearing all the time. Even if a visit couldn’t make that up to Estonia, it was better that he tried… Iceland took a deep breath before knocking on the door, hoping Estonia was even home… he probably should have checked that before coming all the way to his house…
Hearing a faint knock on the door from the top floor, Estonia quickly dashed from his library, down the hall, and a flight of stairs. “I’m coming!” The sound was so low that he hoped that he didn’t miss the individual or that they had been waiting long. He wasn’t quite sure who would be at his doorstep since he wasn’t expecting anyone. It couldn’t have been Finland, he was still in Stockholm, or at least last time he checked he was. Things were quiet with regards to his neighbours so while it was a possibility, he was doubting it could be any of them as well. He was stumped.
When he had gotten to the door, he unlocked and opened it and his eyes showed the element of surprise.
“Islandi…” was all he could say at first but when he recollected himself, a smile formed on his face, “What a surprise! I wasn’t expecting any guests. Please, come in! I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”
That sounds busy to me. Oh really? I’d love to see what you’ve redone sometime. [He laughs]. I can help you there. I grow my own food as well. It was wasn’t it? That’s great! I’m so happy for you. I’ve been meaning to consult with him on some matters to do with rabbits. I hear that he’s good with them.
[He smiles widely made happy by hearing this] I’ve missed you. I worry about your health with how much you push yourself to get all this work done.
Sure! I’d love to show you sometime. He’s the “to go person” if you’ve got questions about rabbits! I’m sure he’d be happy to help with whatever you’re curious about.
-he smiles sympathetically- I really appreciate that. I don’t mind the stress but sometimes I push myself too hard and I forget to take of myself. Sometimes I just need that “push” so to say to break me out of that mentality.