A few years back, I delved into Jean Auel's books on the Earth Children.
Her description of the lands and the seasons heightened my sense of the
world around me. Then I read the journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, which
again gave me a deeper appreciation and communion with nature.
I now realize what I was born in the midst of, a 200 acre farm of fields,
woodlands and more, was indeed a festival of nature. When home from
teaching one summer, my Aunt Katherine catalogued every plant that grew on
that farm. The beauty of those fields and brooks is still with me,
perhaps because the folks that bought it from my father made me welcome to
prowl anywhere on the property I wished. Though my parents died in my
youth, I could always go home again.
The fields, the brooks, the woods, their delight in all seasons is fresh
in my mind. I often think of it, here in the city. As I sit and type
this, autumn leaves are on the trees there, the brooks are the same, their
constant waters flowing and rippling beneath that splendour. Today the
sun shone brightly on those fields; in my mind, I can see it -- and still
enjoy it. In my mind, I can still go home again.
The celtic tradition is rich in mind travel, a technique now taught in
stress management courses. I go back, and feel the rain on the fields,
see the autumn colour of the trees shading our three brooks as the water
flows beneath them, delight in the unbroken white fields of snow and the
snow on the evergreens (of such paintings and postcards are made), and
feel my spirit come alive as bright sunshine falls on the same fields and
filters through the tree-tops in the forest.
Back in the city, let there be a soft autumn rain, a fierce driving rain,
even a hurricane, and I am out in it. My father was the same, and I think
his parents before him on our family homestead of more than a century.
Three poets wrote poems that speak to my soul; each poet was named Robert;
each poet wrote of his love for nature.
When first in Halifax, I rented a room in a private home. Their young
daughter, then about 10 years, enjoyed visiting me in the evenings. We
played chess, we worked on our stamp collections, and we read the poetry
of Rabbie Burns together. She would come in
and take my father's book of Burns' poetry
poetry off my bookcase shelves, and spend an hour or two poring over them.
Forty-four years before the birth
of Scots poet, Rabbie Burns, there was born in Balnakeil, near the northern
shores of Scotland, an infant named Robb Donn
Mackay. This young lad grew and composed poetry in Gaelic of similar nature
to that of Burns in the English of his time, with as much or greater skill at his
craft. Both told of the plight and intrique of every day folks as they lived
their days. In September 1992, with others of Clan MacKay, I visited the grave
of Robb Donn Mackay in the churchyard at
Among my readings (my walls are lined with 22 bookcases), I particularly
enjoy the poems of New England poet, Robert Frost.
To me, he is the New England counterpart of Rob Donn Mackay and Rabbie
Burns. Robert Frost writes of nature in his
farmlands in New England, where many Ulster Scots sojourned before
relocating to Nova Scotia in the mid 1760s.
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