the space that holds ourselves

I walk this long alluvial plain, dreaming of forest. It's been years now but still I sigh the deep, old song of those hill-raised forests where I became myself - cells and stories. Still I listen for memory in the squally grey wind. My bones may be human but the darkness in me, between those bones, all around my thoughts, is hill-shadow, forest-heart.

But now I live on the plain. And as I walk it, or open my windows to it, I see hollows in the sky where trees have vanished from the horizon. Every day, hammers clash and electric saws burn the air. New houses, extensions on houses, garages, driveways - the domesticated man breaks down this natural world to make himself a private, personalised world. It is for his supposed safety, of course, and his convenience. But it feels to me like he is hammering and sawing at my own self. I do not love this plain, with its concrete ways and cluttered stone, brick, glass, sound. But this is where I am right now, and so much of it is who I am in this moment of my life.

I don't believe that people live in places - street addresses, houses sitting on landscapes, the windows and doors opening to a view. I believe that we dwell within space. We breathe pollen and tree language. We shape our feet to the earth. We become warm or cold or fierce or somnolent within the local atmosphere. The space holds our bodies and consciousness. And we hack away at it. We destroy pieces of the space, pieces of ourselves.

Today, the riverside trees beyond my neighbour's houses are touching a new, swollen emptiness as yet another of their company has been yanked away. It seems to hurt with sorrow and the ghosts of leaves. The trees sway differently now. They are affected in unexpected ways by the change in breeze patterns, the fall of light, the exposure of certain branches used to shade. And I sway differently too. I touch the emptiness and feel it echo against my own bones.


  1. you have beautifully expressed a sorrow i feel often...the world we live in echoes with the absence of other beings who used to dwell there, and that absence is felt in our souls too.

  2. A sad sigh....

    Will there be any natural views left, is what I think, around here? What used to be lovely country roads, to be meandered down on a Sun. afternoon... Have become dotted with new homes... And one can not meander down them, anymore... Because they who live in these homes, are on the road and in a hurry to get somewhere... -sigh-

    Not quite the same, as your post. But along the same vein. Nature hacked away. Here and there and too many places.

    Thank you for you lovely comment on my "I Want..." post. Thank you so much. You understand my longing... You and Antoinette.


  3. You write (and photograph) the most beautiful and THOUGHTFUL posts, Sarah. I understand completely when you say you have a "forest-heart". I do not always leave a comment. I feel my words are too clumsy, but please know your blog is one of my favorites and I often leave a "reading quietly" mark.
    Thank you for your kind words over at my blog. I am touched.
    Much love,

  4. I get that Sarah. Just yesterday I watched a big one taken down. A really big one. Maybe 200 ft tall. Always such a sorrowful day in the hood when that happens. But duplexes must be built. Sometimes I think, you know, that belly button kind of thinking. I was born somewhere very far away and will this be the country where I die? and I just want to run away form it. Run away from the final moment. I guess it was a bit out of the question for the tree. He was a North Van seedling Douglas fir born and bred. But I don;t want to end up in A place. How can I make that happen? I wonder about that a lot.

    But now for something much more practical. I played the word somnolent on my tongue. Such fun to say. Chloe heard me, looked it up, immediately memorised it and wrote it on the screen of her computer, and now my 23yr old is just the slightest bit richer. :D

  5. So beautiful, and sad :( Sometimes when I walk in the forest I come to an area where the trees have been cut down, and it feels like a large, open wound to me. I don't like walking there. It feels like my spirit can't find rest. It feels like there is a great cry left behind from all the trees being torn away.

  6. Elizabeth WaggonerOctober 22, 2015 at 2:49 AM

    A few years ago I moved, from the western Rocky Mountains to the plains here in the US. I moved away from wide spaces and high air east to crowds of people, fenced land, busy streets and light so bright that I can barely see the stars. "For my children," I said. "I'll get used to it," I said. "It will be alright," I said.
    Yes. There is a hole in my vision of the sky where mountains used to be, and my heart points north. This post reached deep, deep inside, Sarah. I think we understand each other.