08 October 2006

the tree

we drove straight through to duart castle from calgary, arriving desperate for the loo (the coffee and haddock, no doubt - my mother would appreciate this detail). in the gift shop we met andrew, who, again thanks to lindsay, had been my contact with mull, with duart, with clan maclean, and complicit in this whole enterprise since february. it was andrew who obtained permission from the chief to plant this tree on the grounds of the castle in millennium wood, it was andrew who recommended alec and cynthia, and it was andrew who actually put the tree into the ground.

but i am getting ahead of myself. the tree was in its pot just outside the gift shop (we had walked right past it). so off we go then, our wee procession: andrew, lindsay, and me, through the gate to millennium wood, down the path to the rightmost fork and across a footbridge, to the spot selected. the hole had been properly dug. lindsay and andrew tugged at the pot and extracted the tree for planting. janet held the tree straight while, andrew returned the unearthed soil around it. once planted, andrew joined lindsay on the trail, and janet read the homage.

it sounds simple and straightforward, and it was, but it was also weighty and moving – of course it was that – and because it was so solitary and so singular in purpose, because the words fell mostly on listening leaves and grass, it was also, for the one spoken of, mostly a homecoming, not just to scotland and to the seat of the macleans, but to earth, and the nearby sea she loved so well. even now as i write this, other exquisite moments are hurrying away almost as soon as they arrive, and so are to be cherished, even when they are spent honoring the thing that’s lost.


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