I realised when I headed off into the Forest, it was always the Hunter that was foremost in me, old ways reignited, to wander with intent, eyes trained to seek and find….to notice the smallest detail. Once found the thrill had gone, I had what I wanted, but in the finding of it, I lost something else.
Where were my people….the auld ones I’d hunted with daily.
The auld man who taught me how to make snares to trap animals; for food and clothing.
My grandmother, so long gone, but dearly remembered….she always knew the best places to find berries, she knew all the ways of cooking and preserving them, and then using the last of the juices for dyeing.
I remember even the ones I can’t recall.
I hear their voices telling me the way of it, I hear them calling from their graves, passing on the knowledge….the way they were in the world long before we turned away.
Now shopping has replaced hunting, we still hunger to hunt and forage….to tread softly over dead leaves instead of concrete and bitumen. To walk searching, using our bodies, retraining muscles that are wasting away, shedding loose skin and excess fat, to find the long hard way home…home to the ways of our Ancestors.
All our activity centred around the fire…..cooking, warmth, conversation, and before that, the gathering of wood, a constant, never ending search for it; and all along the way if we were lucky, because back then water was plentiful….there was always enough rain, so that bending down to gather broken branches, newly emerged mushrooms would be found and collected, yet always leaving some behind for next season…..further along the way were wild lettuce and sorrel….. chicory. Laden down with nature’s bounty and many helping hands, we would arrive back to camp, with firewood and food….our bodies exhausted, but now others could unload, could cook, as we lay down around the blazing fire to take our rest; to sleep curled beside each other….the logs crackling cheerfully, the cooking pots bubbling, sparks rising up blazing against a night sky.
Racks nearby drying skins and food.
Life was harder then, but so were we. Our bodies flexible as bow strings, our minds sharp as the tip of an arrow.
And now the world is burning, the animals we lived alongside, they’re dying….as are we, from stress, addiction, depression, obesity…..
And me….so tired I could lay right down on the hard dry ground that aches for rain, but gets none…..lie down, curl into myself like a dying leaf, and just let go….
All is lost…..all is lost, and I am too tired to do a single thing about it…..
MA ©️ Spring 2019
Photo by Author….Waldheim Forest, Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania.