outside of time

trees of the Transylvanian Saxon Land 



These photographs could have been taken on the Southern Transylvanian wood pastures ( the  former “Saxon land”, home of the Germans of Transylvania)  a century ago.


The oak trees would look the same. A hundred years means nothing to them. They are not really interested in what is happening down in the valleys where the years are being counted so meticulously. 

They are just grasping the soil with their roots, photosynthesizing throughout the season and putting on a new growth ring every year. They just need a little water and humans who shuffle around them, herding quadrupeds which in their turn are passing grass into their digestive tract with their scabrous tongues and teeth.

This is essential, because the herbivorous quadrupeds are chewing off the tree seedlings too.  If they would not eliminate young trees, these would soon start to compete with the old trees for water, nutrients and even for light.                                                                                                                                  

This could prevent the old ones to develop amazing crowns and to spend a half-millennia dying calmly, with a lot of dignity.


A lot has happened in the last century down, in the valleys.                                                                                                                                      

In the heat of the events the Transylvanian Germans disappeared during the last and probably the least reported ethnic migration in modern Europe, leaving behind the remains of their eight century long history: empty villages and a countryside still showing the characteristics of the pre-industrial European landscape.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Nothing has remained from all the stability that fundamentally determined the course of their lives. On the contrary, the new residents of the former Saxon villages are understandably thirsty for modernity and have nothing to do with the traditions and mentality of the Transylvanian Saxons.

The trees in the pastures surrounding many of the former Saxon villages are still beautiful. It’s a pity that one can only enjoy them with a slightly clenched stomach. Not only the owners of the animals grazing around them, but also the basic objective of livestock farming have changed in the last century. In former times the livestock was kept for their milk, wool, leather and meat, nowadays mainly for money. The greater portion of the cash is arriving as agricultural subvention. For this money, Western European office-clerks decide how the pastures must be managed. If they decide (and there is a chance that this will happen) that trees are unnecessary in the pastures, the oaks of the Southern Transylvanian wood pastures will fall immediately.


Anyway, the old trees are regarded by the new inhabitants of the Saxon villages as mere terrain features in the best case. More often as firewood within easy reach.

We cannot expect them to suddenly start admiring the fractal shape of the century-old trees while their head is already filled with all the unprocessed nonsense they have accumulated from watching TV.


Good things have also happened in recent times: those who have nothing to do with the wood pastures, but can regard the old trees as amazing creatures have appeared in considerable numbers. 

Maybe new generations of villagers are also coming and they will lean into the pleasant melancholy of these places and will start looking differently at their trees and will not even think to throw the pieces of the crusty giants on fire.