National Geographic : 1938 Jun
FLYING AROUND THE BALTIC rnuougrapn uy tustav rieurlin 17,000 RAISE THEIR VOICES IN THE NATIONAL SINGING FESTIVAL OF ESTONIA Eighty-five bands lead the district groups, garbed in native costumes. This year the annual event in Tallinn (Reval), to be held June 24-6, will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of independ ence. Such songfests kept alive national spirit when the little Nation was a part of the Russian Empire. Works of Estonian composers and old folk songs are heard. Picked choirs sing cantatas and a symphony orchestra accompanies the massed chorus. Kurisches Haff. These names derive from the Dukes of Kurland to whom the entire region once belonged. Automobiles are not permitted on the Nehrung, but I breathed the word Natgeo soc (a very potent incantation) and lo, spe cial permission was granted, and a purring motorcar appeared. Over the highway to Kranz we sped. Then the hard road ended and we found ourselves on a sandy dirt road piercing a jungle of small trees. "Watch for the elk now," said our guide. Since time immemorial this sandspit has been the habitat of herds of these wild creatures, not otherwise known in Europe except in Norway and Sweden. Neither on the way to Rossitten, nor in two succeeding days on the Nehrung, did we catch a glimpse of an elk. But at Rossitten, where the towering, naked dunes begin, came a double reward for our disappointment-the gliders at their practice, and a close-up of the famous bird observatory. The glider students come in relays of 120; a course lasts thirty days. Singing lustily, the neophytes, stripped to the waist, haul the dainty winged craft up to the sum mit of the dune 200 feet above the sea. Turn and turn about, each student, in his motorless craft, is snapped by recoil of a taut rubber rope into the shimmering blue air for a blissful gull flight to the plain below.* The mascot, a little long-haired dachs hund, regards himself as the official starter. When the summer sun turns its burning glass on the white sands, he cools him self under the shadow of a wing until the command is given, then rushes with de lirious barking down from the dune's crest. Very smart the young commanding offi cer looked in his pale-blue uniform; cordial his invitation to lunch. And of specially grateful memory is that ice-cold apple juice * See "On the Wings of the Wind," by Howard Siepen, in THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, June, 1929.