My short journey from Latvia to Lithuania was about four and a half hours. The seagulls of Riga, everywhere present with their cries, did not seem bothered I was on my way, though I may have been mistaken.
The road to Kaunas, in Lithuania, inland from Riga, is one of the more beautiful drives of Europe, with its green fields and meadows, and pine and birch forests, with solitary wooden houses cresting a certain envy: ah, to live in such a green, green country, with the lush sound of the breeze in the birch leaves, and those majestic, grandiose pines, their reddish hues glowing at sunrise and sunset.
I explained this to my two-seagull departure committee, who could not care less, and in fact as I left they turned their backs in disdain, and I bought some small handcarved Latvian pagan symbols at the Riga market before getting on the bus.
In fact the last pagan nation in Europe was Lithuania, and Lithuanian remains one of the oldest languages of the world. The Roman Catholic church was only broadly accepted by the 17th century.
There is, however, still a lingering of the philosophy of Romuva in the background. Romuva is the Lithuanian pagan religion.
The introduction of Christianity was basically an imposition of a caste system on a functioning society. What all persons shared, and a status that was basically equal throughout the country became a rigid new system, with nobles, and priests, new laws and customs, like mandatory baptising of children, which also meant the outlawing of previous customs, such as divorce, and many other traditions.
Many festivals were simply ignored, or usurped. But who cannot ignore the gentle power of trees, their symbolic virtue, and health-giving qualities that teach deep in us.
across distant grasslands and lakes