The Forests of Radnor and Montgomery

I had the good fortune to travel a road I had not taken for many years. It was familiar to me from my journeys to college in 1995 and I remembered the joy I felt at passing through these woodlands every day. I sent them my joy and my prayer that they may long flourish. The hillsides are too steep for agricultural land, so the trees have grown freely there since before the plough was invented. You cannot replace history, nor replicate the depth of feeling that is carried in an ancient wood. I was grateful that a broken tooth had sent me this way to Newtown and the dentist. There is no other word for it. Gratitude. It was what I felt and what I shared with those trees as they stood guardians over our roads that gasp out fumes and stinking trails. Mine no less than any other.

I was surprised and humbled when, later in the afternoon at home now watching the delayed UEFA cup, a presence approached and thanked me for my prayers. She was a white lady, though I could not see her clearly, she reminded me of my friend from the Rock Park. I asked if she was she but knew at once it was not that being but another of her ilk. What can one say of the feeling that is shared by one so tender and so immaterial, in the best sense of that word, not obsessed with chasing money, goods or property? She came to me! It was indeed a surprise and I was privileged and swift enough to withhold the dismissive response that rose initially, as I recognised in time who and what it was she was. So easy to brush aside such a one. And though I speak of her as in the past, it is only the contact that is in the past, for she most certainly is, and as easy for me to engage with her now as it was when she visited. Once having met, never forgotten.

I became aware of her again this morning, asking if I would help to defend the forests that lie along the road. I write this now in response and pray that the pleading may be heard by those in a position to ensure the trees remain untouched.

It was my role, when once in Findhorn I was working, to defend the trees of Randolph’s Leap, a beauty spot and attraction to many visitors each year. I was appalled when on occasion I visited to find the track down to the river a deeply gouged mud patch where huge vehicles had passed and then to see still further down where trees had been removed. The men were there and when I asked if they had spoken with the elementals and elves that lived in those woods and visited frequently, they looked at me as if I was crazy. They explained it was okay, they were ecologists and tree surgeons, and were working to remove the invasive species of trees, thinning them out to give the native trees a chance to breathe. I only saw deeply ignorant kids with tractors to play around on. Unaware that trees like to live close together to protect each other against the wind. I wondered then what they taught them at college, and wonder still. It is no more than economics. How to make a profitable income, no thought of land or lives that live there. Why should we consider them? They do not pay our wages. I was grateful that the stewards of that place heeded my call, for, when next I visited, the work had ended and the trees, which had stood shivering in their plight were given the chance to relax again. There is no sound more fearful in all nature than the petrol driven chain saw and the diesel mining machine.

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.