I have always been drawn to trees and woods. They feel so full of wonder, with each tree having their own tale to tell.
Over the years, I have become increasingly intrigued by the interconnected and interdependent associations present in woodland; and by the wide range of ways in which we as humans have interacted with trees. Each of our native trees has specific ecological niches where they thrive. They each have their own folklore associations; timber uses; non-timber uses such as medicines and dyes; and cultural references in place names, and people’s names.
Stories, like woodlands, should also be imbued with a sense of wonder; and trees and woods, with all these different threads of ‘truth’ ready to be woven together, are a natural subject matter for stories. I have had the good fortune to spend a lot of time in the ancient and other native woodlands of Scotland and I am often keen to speak to others about how special these places are.
There is only so much that we can bend the ears of our nearest and dearest, however, and so I began to write down some thoughts instead. Writing allowed me to wallow in my appreciation of woodlands, learn more about the specific attributes and qualities of each of our native trees, and gave me an avenue through which to enthuse about them.
Five of these stories, each based on one of our native trees, were published in a small illustrated book, Whispering Woods – Tales from the Caledonian Forest. There are also heavily abridged versions of these tales, designed really with live storytelling in mind.
With ash dieback already impacting on ash woodlands, and on ash outside of woods, ash trees have been on my mind a lot, and when I was asked if I might write an article for the ARB Auld Frain, oldest and wisest of the Ash trees. (Illustration by Susan Gray) Magazine, I thought I would share my story based on ash, ‘The Phoenix & the Flame’. It is available on the Association’s here.
If you read it, I hope you enjoy it. And if you enjoy it, then you may also enjoy a short animation film that was made of another of the tree tales, this time a story based on Scots pine called ‘In the Land of the Glittering Wood Moss’: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XviasHlml2Y.
For more information or to buy a copy of the book, contact Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was taken form Issue 191 Winter 2020 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.