Who is Hope Greene? Why did Jussi travel around the world in search of the perfect catch? A lovely diversity is returning to the Baltic City. With it, the tale of the salmon is taking a turn for the better.
The moonlight from the window falls onto the face of a sleeping woman. She is dreaming of a lost meadow and distant friendship...
– I’ll have the fish soup – to celebrate my first day as a pensioner, Raili says.
– The Baltic salmon is at its best right now. Happy retirement, the waiter congratulates her, and Raili sinks into her thoughts in the hustle and bustle of the terrace.
– Such a bittersweet dream, me and Hope on the river meadow …
They were once close, but then fate drew them apart. Looking back, it was work that pulled them away, so they had no time to keep in touch with their best friends.
Raili’s life’s work was in intensive forestry in different parts of the world. Hope, on the other hand, works for the wellbeing of both people and the environment. Raili knows that her famous friend is still living in the Baltic City.
– Should I call her after all this time?
Hope hangs up her red dress to air it out. The last time she wore it must have been at her niece Sara’s wedding. The dress would be just right for the energy conference’s evening ball tomorrow, to which she’s been invited as a guest speaker. She’s already sketched out her speech on her laptop.
Hope Greene was once a young visionary with unconventional ideas. Now she is the grand old lady of city planning, whose insights into the connection between a diverse environment and peoples’ mental wellbeing have aroused interest around the world.
She gently chides her cat Musti for stalking the fringes of her evening dress, and answers the ringing phone..
– Hi Hope.
– Raili? Hope says, taken aback. – Your voice sounds as beautiful as before…
There is a sense of distance in the friends’ conversation for a while, but then Raili laughs, and the words flows as they once did.
– Remember our trips to the Riverbank, you, me, and Jussi. Such a shame that they’ve paved that with concrete too. I’d really love to see you!
– Shall we meet at our old spot in two hours?
Hope puts down the phone, smiling at her reflection. – I really want to see Raili’s face when I show her the results of green city planning at Riverbank...
Raili and Hope
- What a lovely surprise! Raili shouts out to her friend, who is paddling towards the shore. – You didn’t tell me that they had restored the meadow at Riverbank. I saw two damselflies!
– I’m glad you’re here to see this change! says Hope. She proudly shows the landscape to Raili, which shows the concrete evidence of her work in many ways.
– Instead of concrete, the city is paved with permeable stone and full of green spaces. They filter the rainwater before it drains into the river and the sea. Practical wetlands help to protect against floods.
– There’s plenty for the butterfly larvae to chew on in the meadows and barrens of Riverbank... A lovely diversity has returned to the city!
– Looks like they’re planting a new urban forest over there, Raili remarks.
– You would know best how effectively trees improve the quality of the air. They also provide cool shade during the stifling hot summer months.
– True. Large forests have been restored throughout the world to slow down global warming, Raili answers and squints her eyes.
– What, is that Jussi?
They stare at a tall man striding in the water in his fisherman’s boots.
Jussi is an enthusiastic sport fisherman, who has followed the tragic tale of the Baltic salmon throughout his life. As a little boy he caught wild salmon at his home shore. Then salmon stocks were devastated by the new hydropower plants, and Jussi travelled around the world in search of the perfect catch.
However, the tale of the salmon is about to take a turn for the better, as the hydropower firms have been made to build stone fish ways in the Baltic Sea basin. Jussi is involved with the community effort to bring back the salmon, in addition to his grandfatherly duties and other hobbies.
– It’s been decades since I held a wild Baltic salmon, he says, eyes twinkling. – What a monster!
– The transmitter is in, release the fish, advices Kerttu, researcher at the Baltic University. – Thank you to everyone for helping!
– It’ll be cool to follow the mother salmon on the internet.
Jussi wades along the shore, deep in his thoughts. The salmon is a migratory fish, travelling incredible distances between its distant spawning grounds and the Baltic Sea. Will the salmon find the river navigable all the way upstream? Will there be oxygen-rich water and clean gravel beds at the spawning grounds? Will her young be carried by freely flowing waters to the Baltic Sea, or be caught by pike in reservoirs dammed for hydroelectricity?
Raili, Hope and Jussi
Two old friends are waiting for Jussi at the shore. The years dissolve into the breeze blowing from the sea, as the three of them climb into a tram and joke and tease each other as merrily as they did long ago when they were students.
– The green spaces, the butterflies, bringing back the salmon… you’ve worked miracles, Raili says, suddenly serious. – My life’s work has had a very different effect on the environment.
Jussi pats her cheek. – Let’s not cry about the past, you can come help us with the salmon now.
– Of course, we’ve also implemented some holistic development methods in my field, Raili states. – Happily the massive draining of swamps and clear-cutting are history now.
– And run-off from agriculture and peat production has been significantly reduced throughout the Baltic Sea basin, Hope adds.
– Less eutrophicating nutrients are draining into the sea, and the water is getting clearer. You can practically see the sea coming back to life!
– Come on lasses, I say we go to that there bar to sing spells for the salmon! suggests Jussi.
– This here lass needs to wake up fresh in the morning to speak at the conference, Hope says. Though it’s not morning yet...
Illustrations by Mari von Boehm
Translation by Arttu Ahava
Watch the video.