Seventeen moments of spring in Pärnu – the presently not so summery summer capital of Estonia

Pärnu is a small resort town on the west coast of Estonia. A town that, for me, is not only a place to come and enjoy the beaches and parks in the summer, but also an endless source of memories and flashbacks.

This is the place where I was born over four decades ago, a place that should hold no secrets and should fit like an old pair of shoes you toss on with a contented sigh, knowing that there will be no surprises…  Alas, most thankfully, that has never been the case.

Whether the news are rattling like the sudden construction happening on almost all main roads, turning half the town into a bicycling nightmare, nostalgic like the new night club bumping out the unforgettable gooey tunes from performers like Rick Astley and the Pet Shop Boys, or heartwarming like the lovely street terrace at the ever-present doughnut lounge in old town, Pärnu keeps morphing and breathing like any other place or being – with times and despite times…

There doesn’t seem to be a day when Pärnu river is devoid of fishermen. And who could blame them – whether they catch a fish or not, the sight itself is worth packing the rod and heading towards the pastime favoured by so many the world over.

The beautiful sculptures at the cemeteries in Pärnu are the reason I feel drawn to these “underground hostels” – that’s how graveyards were once so colourfully described to me by a young guide in Honduras. That, and the silent chatter of the past…

The spring harbingers, humming over the waves in Valgeranna, are not birds. At least, not in the direct sense of the word.

Vallikäär shines and sparkles as brightly as ever. Like a friend of mine so kindly noted, “If I didn’t know how abandoned Pärnu can be (except for few weeks of Estonian summer), based on your photos, I would immediately dash over there!” I actually think that it is worth dashing over to any time of the year. But that’s just me, you must decide for yourself.

What is the best means of transportation in a town the size of Pärnu? Bicycle, of course. But be careful when riding along these beautiful old alleys – the tree roots sneak their way under the asphalt, create bumps in most conspicuous places and force you to take either a sudden detour or beating on the rear end… Both can be rather unsettling and the latter painful as well. But don’t despair; there is at least ONE perfect road in Pärnu and others in the making.

Once you have seen the bright colours the Estonian springlight coaxes out of your photos, you cannot stop shooting… Especially when there is an abundance of clouds to be reflected from the Kirbu river.

Every time I see a little boat like this, I am thrown back in time to when a friend of mine, a fisherman himself, took me to one of his fishing trips. A choice he came to regret bitterly, as my inability to kill anything larger than mosquito extended to fish, of course; resulting in him pulling the fish in and me tossing the “sad looking ones” (read: all I could lay my hands on) back. The only reason I stopped was his dire threat to throw me in with the next fish going overboard… Needless to say, this was my last fishing trip.

I love the way our Mother Nature is looking after the first brave ones – She dresses them into fluffy winter coats.

When the ice goes, everything goes, including dead trees. Most of these clean polished trunks end up finding their final resting places alongside the surf. Even though perhaps not so aesthetically pleasing to the average beach goer, they fit the bill for crows like the one on the picture, who’s all settled in and ready to dry his rumpled feathers after a long bath in the icy seawater.

The most heartwarming sight to any true “pärnakas” (Pärnu native) – the sand dunes, ever so inviting to grab your towel and stretch out in the sun, all safe from chilly winds or peeking eyes…

Spring seems to bring out the creativity not only in the nature but also in humans – not too long ago, this lovely lady bug was a simply gray rock.

And if you are in Pärnu, not quite sure what to make of the weather, or the season for that matter, peel your eyes back and look for crocuses – if they are “out”, the spring is definitely here…


Photos: Giia Weigel.

3 thoughts on “Seventeen moments of spring in Pärnu – the presently not so summery summer capital of Estonia”

  1. Hi Giia! Great photos! My Estonian wife and our family have a home in Parnu and live the rest of the year in Boca Raton. Knowing Estonians, she probably knows you! We’ve been going back and forth over whether or not to go to Parnu this summer. Your essay says, “GO!!!” Thanx

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