Everyone has their tree. For me, its Scot's pine. The tree of the Highlands. My soul's home.
They are some of the oldest of trees. Wisdom emanates from every needle. Remaining constant throughout the changing seasons. Watching their fellow trees going through the cycle of becoming leafless then bursting with life again. I love the energy that comes with changing seasons, but need the steady presence of Scot's pine. They keep me grounded in an often hectic world.
They are not a showy tree. Yet, they have a robust beauty. Tough needles and deeply etched bark that survive the Highland's ferocious storms and deadening winters. If given space, their branches will twist and turn, reaching out to create shapes that are utterly unique and full of character. What we call a 'granny pine'. They watch over the younger pines that huddle together before they are strong enough to break away on their own.
The smell of pine is delicate. As you move through them, it wafts gently, caressing your nostrils. Keeping the freshness of a summer's day all year round. Moisture enhances this smell. On a damp early spring morning, I watch water droplets glistening as they cling to the pine needles. Reflecting the entire forest in a precious moment.
I create a little nest at the base of a granny pine. My legs become intertwined with the trees strong roots that have burst from the ground. I snuggle in amongst the fallen needles. Leaning back against the rough bark and letting my eyes rest. Feeling utterly secure and at peace in my forest home.
There is a mutual trust between this tree and I. I recognise it's value, respect it's wisdom and am in utter admiration of it's beauty. These feelings are clear in my every movement. Every glance. The tree recognises that I pose no threat and I am content to sit quietly. As we both watch the forest move around us, I feel a sense of complete belonging.
I am reminded of a story* that I first read many years ago and has stayed with me since. In this story, a boy is described as being able to inhabit souls of other creatures. A spirit walker. On his return to his human form, his soul is mixed with the fragments of these spirits. His eyes are deepened with varying fragments of different colours as he truly becomes one with the life around him. A beautiful story and one that holds so much meaning for me.
My relationship with nature is ever deepening, as is my determination to protect it. I leave this forest feeling its spirit pulsing through my veins. A reminder that my tree, my Scot's pine, is forever with me. No matter how far I travel, I will always be part of my forested home.
* The books I mention are the series 'Chronicles of Ancient Darkness' by Michelle Paver, that I first read at 14 then re-read as a form of escapism when the pandemic hit. I feel like I appreciate these wonderful stories even more as an adult. I'll be holding on to them for many years to come.