TinyRevolutions – tree connections (and a story!)
More from our Ambassador Alis Ballance in the Highlands.
This is a hazel tree in our garden at Torran, up in the hills above Drumnadrochit and Loch Ness.
The hazel is a tree I feel very connected to personally, as my beloved Dad died a year ago, and the very last time I saw him was standing by the hazel tree in his garden at Belladrum. So, when I want to feel close to my dad again, I tend to gravitate towards a hazel tree.
Actually, though, it’s not just a personal connection that I feel with the hazel tree. I’m a storyteller and I feel strongly culturally connected to the hazel tree, because here in the Highlands the hazel is a part of our ancient traditional storytelling and lore. Perhaps the most famous story of the hazel is the story of Fionn MacCumhaill (Finn MacCool!), the salmon of wisdom and the nine hazelnuts.
This is a story from when the legendary hero, Fionn, was a boy. He has been asked by a mentor, Finnegas, to cook a salmon for him. However, this is not just any salmon! This is the salmon that Finnegas has been seeking for many a long time, and is the Salmon of Wisdom, the salmon which has gained all the knowledge of the world. This it has done by passing through the Well of Wisdom, and eating 9 hazelnuts that have fallen in it from 9 hazel trees.
So, Finnegas asks Fionn to cook the salmon for him, but tells him under no circumstances to taste any of the salmon himself. But then as Fionn is cooking the salmon, he decides to check with his thumb if it is hot enough, so burns his thumb. When he sucks his thumb to make it better, he accidently eats some of the salmon, thus gaining special wisdom. Finnegas then allows Fionn to eat the whole salmon meaning that Fionn gains all the wisdom of the world!
Irish friends will know this story too, as it is part of our shared Celtic heritage.
So, those are 2 ways in which I feel connected to the hazel tree, and beyond these, we are so vitally connected to all trees – without them we would not be able to live, to breathe, after all!
And now, more than ever, in these times of disconnection, it can help to re-connect with trees.
If you have a garden that you can go out into at the moment or any trees or gardens you can see from your window, maybe you could take a photo of your favourite tree and send it to us, possibly with a wee story about it? Or if you don’t have access to a garden just now, perhaps you could draw your favourite tree or send us a wee story or poem about your favourite tree for us all to share? Email Stella here.
Thanks and enjoy tree-connecting and re-connecting with nature.