Musings of an Edinburgh Celebrant: The mountains are in you…

“You are not in the mountains, the mountains are in you.”

John Muir

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote over the past couple of weeks. As so many of us aren’t able to get out to the hills, the sea, the places we feel most alive. Having the Lammermuir hills within cycling distance from our home is something I’ll never take for granted.

I’m also finding though, that there is a simple beauty in walking the same familiar close-to-home routes each day, watching nature bloom a tiny bit more each time we go out. I’m reminded of those stop-frame photograph books I used to love as a child, flicking through the pages watching a leafy sapling unfurl it’s leaves and spread great sweeping branches in super-fast time, transforming into a mighty oak.

It makes me think of Tove Jansson living her life on a tiny island and the extraordinary detail she writes about. It’s possible to see this evolving beauty in the smallest of places… much harder, of course, in the city, in highly-populated areas, if you are in a place where lockdown requires you to not leave the house, if you are physically restricted, or completely shielding.

Robert MacFarlane writes about soldiers in the war holding images in their minds of the outdoor spaces they roamed as a child, a young adult, to carry them through their immense hardship. As someone who just went through surgery, I’ve been feeling striking similarities around lockdown limitations and the physical limitations of post-surgery recovery. It is humbling to think there are so many people who always experience this physical restriction as part of their lives.

I’m finding the hardest part – but also the most helpful – is learning how to hold in our minds and hearts the places we feel most alive. There’s something incredibly peaceful about paying attention to the tiniest details in nature. Noticing textures and shifting light, drinking in scents and listening to sounds. It becomes easier then to bring the mountain to mind when you need it most. 🌿

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