In response to a writing group topic prompt of ‘branch’, my mind wandered back to an occasion in 2021 when I tried out the pastime of forest bathing From memory, this episode playing out within the woodland splendour of Bishop’s Wood, North Yorkshire.
Comforted it would be unlikely I’d meet a wolf, who’ve introduced jeopardy to many childhood fairytales, this trek amongst the timber imparted great serenity. In the process cleansing my soul and dirtying my boots.
Amongst these vast treed areas, the sight and sound of fellow walkers was rare. In fact, apart from a red hooded girl carrying a basket over her forearm, and a guy lugging a burgeoning body bag and shovel, my buddy and me witnessed no other venturers during our forest odyssey.
This scenario affording us time to self-consciously talk to the trees, in the process endeavouring to understand life’s meaning from mighty pine and sycamore hosts. Unsurprisingly, the trees didn’t respond, but the calm bestowed in their presence imparted a catharsis not easily found in contemporary life.
Footnote – To be honest, I’m relieved the flora and fauna didn’t respond. Being confronted by a talking tree would at best unsettle me; and at worst… erm… well, really unsettle me!
Later, sitting quietly on a felled log, sampling sun as it filtered through the vast trunks and branches, notions of how forest strolls were a great metaphor for life itself manifested.
By that I mean we all experience occasions of aesthetic and spiritual beauty; along with obstructions which stop us in our tracks. Not to mention episodes when you can’t see what’s lays ahead and moments when we are completely at a loss as to which direction to take.
God, I don’t half come out with some pretentious old bollocks, don’t I?!
I found briefly existing in ‘the wild’ a sobering episode. After all, I was spending time in an environment similar to how our forebears would have lived their lives centuries earlier. This experience possibly a catalyst to my recent acquisition of a campervan. A purchase undertaken with aspirations of getting back to nature.
That being said, residing outdoors with access to electricity, showers, toilets, a microwave, air fryer, toaster, kettle and heater can hardly be classed as returning back to when cousin Ugg set mammoth traps to catch the family dinner.
I guess our ancestors would’ve looked after woodlands better. After all, they wouldn’t have culled vast acres of forest to make room for burger destined cattle, millions of spam leaflets and pointless greetings cards wishing somebody ‘Happy Babysitters Day’.
Footnote – Well I assume they didn’t receive kebab shop menus and send greetings cards in cousin Ugg’s day… Our entitled lives maybe infinitely better than forest dwelling forebears, but will we leave this vale of tears with the same good conscience?!… Incidentally, that question was rhetorical.
Admittedly not out of choice, and it’s without question they’ll have wished our lifestyle. However, also without question, cousin Ugg and auntie Uggetta’s environmental legacy was significantly less destructive than their over-indulgent future generations.
F***ing hell, I wanted to write a whimsical yarn based on the prompt ‘branch’ and I’ve gone into full treehugger mode… Incidentally, tree hugging is something I literally indulged in during the aforementioned forest bathing trip.
The random hugging of trees is preferable to uninvitedly invading a ladies space in that manner… They’re less inclined to slap you… And find it harder to fill out restraining orders!!