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Book Week Scotland and Trees for Life


At last two of my favourite topics are combined in one week. There are all sorts of celebrations and bookish things happening all over the place. Mostly still online but we are getting there.

Comhairle Nan Leabhraichean (The Gaelic Books Council) has also just announced the outcome of the first year of their initiative with Trees for Life. Started in June 2020, they have had a tree planted for every book they have helped publish. Excitingly, that means ‘Grumpa’ has a tree planted for him. I’m sure he would be happy to know that given his love of gardening.

Their grove, Coille nan Leabhraichean will be added to each year as more books are helped. I will have to write more Gàidhlig children’s books. After all, the more books published, the more trees will be planted to mark this.

All these thoughts about concentrating on a more lucrative stream of writing have just been kicked into touch. As a writer and also someone who needs to earn some kind of living this is something I have had to consider. The Gaelic market is only so big. I’m never going to be able to make my fortune writing or selling Gaelic books.

However, with the combination of writing and books growing together with this initiative it defiantly puts pressure on me to produce another Gaelic book. It is a great feeling thinking of all these children enjoying my stories but now there will be a tree planted for ‘Grumpa’ as well. What more could I ask?

One of my first blogs was about rewilding. In particular, the quarry near me which has taken about twenty-five years to turn from a gravel pit, where hardly anything grew, to a haven for wildlife and an abundance of broom, gorse, and other trees and bushes.

The Butterfly Conservation people have already been in and helped develop a more suitable habitat for the small blue butterfly. Given how many of these butterflies I have seen whilst walking there this past year I’d say their work has paid off. So many small blues suddenly appeared that we ended up stopping and just spending a few minutes gazing as they fluttered by. I love it when nature demands your attention like this.

Trees for Life has also announced recently that they have gone into partnership with other landowners. The original Trees for Life Wood down Loch Ness side will join up with new areas so that a forest will stretch right across to the West Coast of Scotland. It will take years to develop but what a sight and legacy to leave for future generations. Especially at a time when frustration is building at the lack of movement from governments on climate change. Developments like this spread hope.

I have my own little grove within Trees for Life, Coille Ceitidh, set up by my family and friends. At this time of year, it may be the right moment to remind them that I would be more than happy to find on December the 25th that my presents consisted of a few more trees.

This is the first year that I have had two books published in one year. Grumpa agus na Nàbaidhean Ùra in spring and Blàs Roots in the Soil in September. I have no idea if I will ever be able to do that again, especially as life is gradually opening up.

One of the themes in Blàs; Roots in the Soil evolves around the local woods. It allowed me to bring in many old traditions and stories we have involving our native trees. Of course, I added a few new ones of my own, well I am a storyteller after all. I probably should have thought about planting a tree to mark the occasion of Blàs; Roots in the Soil getting published. It sits perfectly with my story. This is something I can rectify though.

Grumpa will already have had a tree planted to commemorate his publication by Comhairle Nan Leabhraichean. If you will excuse the pun, I am going to take a leaf out of their book and pay for two more trees to be added to Coille Ceitidh to mark the publication of my third Grumpa book and my second Blàs story. Perhaps this is something I can take forward. It will certainly motivate my writing.

Therefore one of my contributions to Book Week Scotland this year will be the addition of two trees to my tree grove Coille Ceitidh at Trees for Life.

So mòran taing/many thanks Comhairle nan Leabhraichean for the idea and I hope you wouldn’t mind me copying your initiative. After all, it combines two of my loves books and trees. And if any of my family is reading this, I don’t need wrapped presents under the tree, I will be delighted with a few more trees I can hug when I finally get down to the Trees for Life woods in Dundreggan.

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