I remember…

I know this tree – he’s an old friend of mine – I’ve sat under his branches with my back against his bark many times, lost in thought, taking a break with a cup of tea, or stilling still in the dark listening to badgers munch on damsons in the autumn.

Once I sat there in the dark watching two summer thunder storms as they traversed along the Longmountain on one side and Llanymynech Hill on the other, lighting up the sky in tandem like some ethereal warriors…

Rituals of all kinds have been carried out under his gaze.

Yes, I know this tree… like an old friend, he is. I miss him…

*** *** ***

The old pine tree, I assume a Scots Pine, must be at least 300 years old ~ ancient for a Scots Pine ~ planted to mark the way for travellers on the flat river plane with the Severn to one side and the Vyrnwy on the other. He stands alone, near an old footpath. But there are others in the landscape, with past associations too.

There are three, younger Scots Pines planted at the confluence of the Severn and Vyrnwy, marking a spot where once stood an inn, called  The Cymerau Inn ~ a popular watering place, for the drovers and their herds in times past ~ the family drowned while crossing the river, according to a local story and the inn was left empty and is now all gone ~ leaving the tree’s as a silent reminder that once they welcomed all travellers… (source)

© Copyright Tamasine Stretton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

As a child I used to fish for perch here with my parents, my attention always wondered to the spot above in this picture ~ the site, I now know of the families inn.

But to return to the tree, I used to ritually harvest the resin, from the big carbuncle growing on the south side of the tree ~ the scent is heavenly when a little of it is burned on charcoal, and because I know the tree it came from, all the more useful and sacred; I know why the tree is there, and how it’s guided people for generations, the paths they took, even the places they would stay ~ and there is no doubt The Hendre (Old Town) is still a welcome place to stay for some of us, all thanks to the generous nature of the owner.

So this morning I burnt some of the tree’s resin and watched the smoke rise in ribbons slowly from the censer. My mind wandered to those far of times of drovers with their herds and flocks and of the family who drowned; of the path’s I’ve travelled to reach this place of liminality where I now live, and how I can if I wish, trace my steps back and if need be forwards into the future…

In these last days of November my thought’s often turn to my ancestors and the research into the family tree is rekindled with gusto – who knows some of them my even have known the old Scots Pine who’s resin I now burn, such are the threads that weave us altogether.

I leave you with these beautiful words of an Old Irish prayer, that seem to fit perfectly with the sentiment of the season

I remember you, my beloved many, 

Who’s names I know and who’s names have long gone unspoken,

I remember you,

Your breath I breathe,

Your body and blood has mingled with the sacred soil,

I remember you.

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