She, an elephant of the African plains, lived to the age of seventy. Strong and guiding, her migration led her to past many wonders, eighty kilometres a day, year upon year. For two million kilometres she walked.
A couple of weeks ago, whilst rambling through the wild flower-strewn grazing lands of the Mendip Hills just south of Bristol, a friend told me I must read Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places. I received the book yesterday and immediately got to it.
Ten pages in, I began to feel unusually torn: Macfarlane’s writing is evocative and luring, yet with each page I turn I want to drop the book and venture out into the wild. This is a compliment, no doubt, to an author and a book that, based on the first chapter alone, must be read by anyone with an ounce of longing for the wilderness running through their veins.
Mushrooms gossip: a huddle of old ladies in wide-brimmed hats; a sodden band of children beneath ribbed umbrellas. It’s easy to discuss their demeanour, less so their voice. For, beneath their caps of gold and bronze, they tell truths inconceivable to you and I. Truths that, if understood, would alter all that we are.
I look up into the iris of the Olympic’s rain forest canopies. I am without compass, map and memory, but I am not lost. Indeed, far beyond the knowledge of our material world, I know precisely where I am.