On my last full day in Benmore Botanic Garden I would like to acknowledge all the people who have taken the time to tell me their very poignant and personal stories.
I’ve been trusted with stories about lost loved ones and lost or missed or wasted opportunities.
I’ve heard about fears that a time for something people could or should or now wish they had done has passed.
So many people told me time in general was passing too quickly… much, much too quickly and they didn’t have enough left.
I feel privileged to have been told about searing, hurt-to-the bone, can-sleep-at-night loneliness and mistakes that have had consequences unimaginable at the time.
I have also been told about regrets. I just wish there hadn’t been so many stories about regret.
I say stories, but to my ear most of what people shared had the raw-truth and heart-felt lyricism of poetry.
And, as I get ready to leave, it is lovely to know that people use Benmore as a place to come and remember, grieve, contemplate and generally take advantage of the peace and tranquillity.
I hope the garden and walking and talking and writing eased whatever was troubling them; gave them respite, even if only briefly.
I do a lot of work in museums and often Memory Boxes prove to be a way of helping people deal with gnawing emotions or adapt to difficult changes in their lives.
They are a way of gathering together all the thoughts and feelings that people have been carrying around – either because they can’t unload the weight from their shoulders or because they fear someone or something precious will be forgotten.
Once the box is filled, many people feel more able to continue the process of adapting and changing.
I’m not in any way saying the process is easy; just that a Memory Box can sometimes help.
Many people wrote poems that were not necessarily tree related and so did not want to submit to the Walking with Poets website.
But they were Memory Boxes.
Or to put it another way their poems were time capsules, capturing a moment in their lives, an emotion or a memory. However short or long and whatever its style, their poem captured something very important to them that can never now be lost.
And after talking to some of the gardeners at Benmore it’s got me thinking that our 150 poems, written to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the planting of the Redwood Avenue, would sit well inside a time capsule. Alongside detailed botanical records and pictures of the Redwood Avenue it would provide a sense of what these trees, and trees in general, meant to people in the summer of 2013.
It’s just a thought…