France 24 01 January 2013
AFP - It started as a whim, but snowballed into a life-long passion.
Estonian Tõnu Tamm has dedicated the past two decades of his life to his obsession of creating artificial lakes.
Surrounded by water in the south of the small Baltic republic, his enthusiasm is infectious as he insists everyone should do their bit for the environment and take tiny steps that help bring calm to a troubled world.
"People might think it's very hard to make a lake, but you just need a suitable landscape and some knowledge, including about dams," the 71-year-old told AFP.
"It all started in the spring of 1981. After spending all our summers from 1966 to 1980 on wild nature trips to Siberia, where I made several TV documentaries, I decided with my wife Tiiu-Mall to buy a summer cottage in Estonia," he explained.
At the time, Estonia was under Soviet rule. As in other communist-bloc states, escape to the countryside was one way for urban dwellers to forget the political sloganeering of daily life.
Despite the Soviet command economy, it was still possible to buy a cottage or exchange a city apartment for one.
"The plan was just to have a cottage to relax at weekends and retire when we got old. But when we arrived here, for one day only, the beauty of nature stunned us so much that we decided to stay forever," Tamm said.
Having loved the lakes he saw on his travels, he dreamed of having one near his new home.
"So I decided to make a lake myself. And suddenly making lakes just became part of my life," he explained.
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Estonia's lake-maker lives his dream