Wishing Tree

At the end of a dark tunnel, just like that, the sun appears and makes everything feel alright. Just after New Year I remember thinking to myself: We haven’t had any hoolies yet this winter! Rain, oh yes, so much of that; more than in (my) living memory. Yet the wind was largely absent – until I mentioned it. The mere thought seemed to unleash a powerful force. Did I disturb a slumbering storm-demon? It blasted in faster than I could swallow my words and we had, I believe, four storms in two weeks with, apparently, more to come. Not today, though. I’m told it’s been worse elsewhere; we are lucky here in so many ways, though weather is not usually one of them.

I had set today aside for writing and there is much to do: updating Vistas sketching holiday clients, university course work and assigments looming. But in Assynt, when the sun comes out the residents come out, if they know what’s good for them. So I had a stomp around the woods and a surprisingly warm bask on the thoughtfully-situated bench above ‘Anna’s beach’, covered in washed-up kelp from the rough seas which are, today, a picture of tranquility.

My stroll home took me past the ‘Wishing Tree’, an ancient conifer deep in the woods, strung with little hand-written notes. Colourful scraps of paper and cloth flutter from the branches revealing hopes, dreams, memories and musings; from the childish desires for a new toy to heart-wrenching pleas for a loved one’s health and more abstract, universal issues such as climate change, the tree has a lot of magic to perform.

Perhaps today I was the first, although surely not the last, to touch its firm, rough trunk, gaze into its prickly grey, lichen-covered centre and ask for peace – particularly in Ukraine – during these troubling weeks. The tree can’t work miracles, but I’ve heard it said that many tiny acts create a movement, and perhaps that’s also true of thoughts.

At times like these I realise just how fortunate we are, despite everything, to live in a relatively stable country that gives us everything we need; things that so many can only dream about. I try not to take it for granted, and I’m always grateful for our beautiful Culag woods.