South of the town of Forres, off in the hilly woodlands between the Moray coast and Speyside, I stroll amidst the moody Tullochwood. The last fingers of daylight lance the path, and large, black slugs ooze in the soft mosses. The twilight becomes corporeal as it descends beneath the canopy, given shape by the infinitesimal floating pollens and insects. There is no breeze, no random gusts, just a humid bubble of green air like the breath of the forest before exhalation. Tree shadows splice the forest into bands of heat and chill. A rumpled meadow is shot through with ferns just breaking the surface.
Old forests are alien and welcome. I clamber over mounds and deeper into shadow thinking of Tullochwood like a sibling or parent separated from me at birth. Foreign yet familiar, the memory of a childhood melody playing on heart strings. We’ve gone so far away from this world. Too far from simple beautiful cycles toward the frenetic minutiae of meetings and bus schedules and alarm clocks. A waking life of flickering e-mails and commercials – the forest for the trees and all that. The desire I feel to return here is of a romantic persuasion, the kind curated in media that strips out all the stark realities. And yet that melody plays on. Can we never go home again?