S Is For Sikinsokin.


Sikinsokin is Finnish for “all mixed up”. And the roots of the pine and the birch (see the white bark) seem to be just that and the erosion has revealed it.

This place is in Munkkiniemi, Helsinki and is by the sea, so at high water, waves and ice may have eroded the soil.

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© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved.


  1. Ice Swimmer says

    Thank you, Caine!

    Jazzlet @ 2

    That’s actually two pines and a boulder between them. It would be more clear in the uncropped picture.

  2. Nightjar says

    That’s a wonderful finding and a beautiful photo. I really like those exposed roots and the stones.

  3. avalus says

    So gnarly, so wiggely. As if clutching the ghosts of soil and pebbles. I love it, a great photo!

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Thank you Nightjar and avalus! I happened to walk into this place without knowing what I would find. The place is a bit out of the way, I was just going along the coastline and saw the roots. The original picture sat for a long time, because I couldn’t get it to work on the first attempt at editing.

    Caine, thanks, now the title is as it should be. I wouldn’t have complained about a typo in an English word.

  5. rq says

    Pine or fir?
    There’s a classic Latvian poem/song about a fir and birch intertwined:
    Everything in this forest is so familiar,
    But suddenly the gaze turns upward,
    For how many years -- one cannot guess
    A fir and a birch grew here side-by-side.

    Once he bent in every wind,
    She feared the axe each Midwinter.
    Yet still both sought the sun,
    Which coloured their tops red each dawn.

    For each other they collected the first bird songs,
    They trusted each other with their feelings,
    He burning in the fires of autumn,
    She -- green in the depths of winter.

    Now the fir’s rough bark is no longer smooth,
    The birch’s branches show a greying beard,
    But he doesn’t ask, why do you grow russet,
    And she -- why do your branches tremble so?

    They don’t speak of love in lousd voices,
    They stand side-by-side and quietly whisper,
    The fir to the birch is ever green,
    And the birch to the fir, still clean and white
    (Loosely translated by me.)

  6. Ice Swimmer says

    Thank you, voyager!

    rq @ 9

    Well, Scots pine has been called Scotch fir in the old days and the native pine here is the same species, Scots pine.

    A beautiful poem, indeed.

    Is mežmalā “in the forest” or “in the forest land”. Forest land is metsämaa in Finnish (metsä = forest). I wonder where we got the word? Apart from Baltic and Finnic languages, forest seems to be meşə in Azebaijani, according to Wiktionary.

  7. rq says

    Ice Swimmer
    Mežmala is actually the edge of the forest (where it’s not quite forest yet), mežmalā being the locative declension (where?). Mežs is forest, mala is edge or side. In Estonian, forest is mets, so it’s probably a crossover/loan in one direction or another. Also Latvian has absorbed a lot of Liv language oddities (having overrun the poor fisherfolk), and the Liv language is of the Finnish language group, so who really knows how some of these words came into Latvian. (Now I wonder if the mala part is etymologically close to maa, I think it has a similar meaning to the Finnish in Estonian, and mala can sometimes be used to signify land (more archaically, I suppose, I recall it used in phrases in folk tales and such). As another example, a common word for ‘boy’ is puika. I used to know a few others off the top of my head, but that’s one that I don’t forget. :)
    Oh, another interesting one -- an older Latvian word for marriage is laulības, and the Estonian for song is laul, and marriage, being a ritual, involved a lot of singing. There’s the Latvian word sadziedāties, which literally means ‘to find singing harmony together’, to describe two people discovering a deeper and potentially romantic affinity (sometimes just to imply conspiracy ;) ). So. :) Language is neat.

  8. lumipuna says


    Pine or fir?

    AFAIK, the English word fir has been traditionally used for various conifers in the pine family, notably the Scots pine, which is apparently the only native conifer in Britain aside from juniper and yew. The modern “proper” meaning of fir refers to the genus Abies, which is not native in either Britain or Baltic sea region, but is native and common in Canada. Do you also call the pine fir in Canada?

  9. rq says

    I use fir to differentiate from pine, as in Douglas fir (which, haha, is also called Oregon pine) and similar to such in appearance because I hate saying ‘christmas tree’ as a species descriptor. The Scots was pine, where I was educated, but that might differ regionally across Canada. In Latvian there is priede (Scots, etc.) and egle (Douglas, etc.; also a Lithuanian name, feminine), also kadiķis (juniper).

  10. lumipuna says

    Now I get it! The native Latvian egle must be the same tree as Finnish kuusi, in the genus Picea (spruce), which is different from Abies (fir in proper sense) despite looking quite similar. There’s also native spruce in Canada, and native fir in South/Central Europe and Russia.

    Somewhat confusingly, the North European species is named Picea abies, “fir spruce”. The English name of this species is Norway spruce, I guess because much spruce timber was at some point imported from Scandinavia. I also recently learned from Etymonline that “spruce” originally meant “Prussian timber”.

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