Parked next to this beautiful Alder tree on the northwest coast of Scotland for a couple of days I feel her rooting into my consciousness and dreams. I am trying to be more mindful of thoughts when around certain trees: what emotions am I experiencing? What memories are surfacing? What fragments of conversations/films/books/songs/poems are needling at the mind? Dreams have been turbulent but I cannot remember any details – I know this is also something that needs work.
I am reminded again and again of the time, over a decade ago, when the first tenuous connections began to form with the hills of north Wales, when I would walk barefoot, scrambling up amongst bright purple heather and winberry bushes, through baking sun or wind soaked waking-dreams.
I am reminded that when we visited France during this time the Blonde Mountains appeared in nighttime dreams to offer a powerful connection to the land.
I am reminded that I refused because my loyalty lay with the mountains of Cymru and I could not imagine giving my heart to another.
When I returned to the hills of north east Wales the spirits were unhappy and I was turned away. Devastated, I couldn’t understand why my loyalty was repaid in this way. Still I continued to walk, my heart shattered.
Eventually the land relented and revealed what I wasn’t able to understand:
She illuminated the vast expanse of the universe, and her oneness.
She taught me that the mountains of the world were all part of her, and therefore me.
By turning away from the mountains in France I had rejected everything else.
Still I was not ready to hear this truth and continued on regardless.
It is only now, over a decade later, when we have uprooted all that we know to live a nomadic lifestyle, that I understand what the land was trying to teach me: there are no borders, these exist only in the minds of people. We are creatures of the earth. I am part of this vast planet spinning at 67,000 miles per hour through space; and each rock on each mountain is part of me. By creating boundaries, by parcelling the land out under the lie of ‘ownership’ instead of an absolutely equal stewardship, by believing that we belong only to one small fragment of land and cutting ourselves off from the rest (and equally denying others the right to migrate) we slowly suffocate our natural ways of being in this world, and our creative, beautiful selves, which leads inevitably to closed doors in the mind, and judging others.
I’ve stood barefoot with this Alder tree these last few days; held new leaves gently like butterfly wings; dreamed under her canopy; I am sat with her now writing this, the sun’s heat mitigated by fluttering leaves and what this tree has brought to light for me is the truth as I’ve written above, and she’s gifted the courage to send these words out into the world.