I follow my dog friend up the hill by the church. Oak leaves and sycamore and hawthorn leaves are inches deep on the ground now, kicking and crunching around us like we’re paddling in a low cornflake tide.
A pile of chainsawed logs in the graveyard exudes an incense drift into the cold air.
I breathe out dragon steam and breathe in pine blood.
We enter a tunnel of tree branches over the path and I realise.
The land is my ancestor.
I have been doing more ancestor work in this last year with Wild Essence, reaching out past the names I know to connect with the Way Back Ones, their names long lost in my family tree. It’s been beautiful and there have been some amazing moments.
But today I feel that the only one I really desire to learn to connect with more deeply, more honourably, more graciously is this land ancestor of mine. Ancient and huge and all around.
The soil and the rocks and the leaves and the trees and the plants and the animals.
My literal roots come from them.
Each walk with bare feet on soil feels like a homecoming. A hug under my feet. A meeting. I am always met.
Some of my blood line and some people of my cultural heritage managed this relationship with land a better way. Singing songs and tying the seasons together with ritual and remembering. Taking just enough. Restoring and nurturing.
But many of them didn’t.
There were strong patterns of wankerhood in my ancestry.
Broken links, abuse and scorn between humans, and deep patterns of broken relationship with the earth and other creatures.
And I grieve the scars and the loss and the legacy. The fauna cast of Springwatch were deliberately destroyed, not accidentally lost (read Silent Fields by Roger Lovegrove for more on that).
And I carry my own wonkiness, deeply imperfect, desiring to do better. Following my dog up a hill.
What I dream of is finding a better way, a little, each day, to meet the more than human world and acknowledge our intermingling connection in my ways.
The only connection to my heritage I really long to preserve and improve is mine to the rest of nature, especially here in the country I was born in and was made of.
And I dream of welcoming others here, who’s stories are linked with this soil, that they can find the tangles of their roots, know the leaf smells and the crunches. Meet this place and know that they know it already. That the place knows them.
And I dream of welcoming others here, those who are running, looking for somewhere safer to plant their feet. For the earth to meet them with kindness, the way your friend’s mum might when you’re having trouble at home. Times when your own family feels like barbed wire and there’s an other-mother-person who notices you and cooks you a warm meal.
Cos this land isn’t mine in any sense to get possessive over.