Sometimes I feel lonely in the presence of other humans, because they do not let me feel at home. The gingko taught me that family is beyond what society taught us often to think. It can extend to humans who are not not blood relatives, but also to the rocks, trees and other beings in a place we currently occupy.
In the autumn of 2018, I suffered (again) a November depression or Autumn Flu, which happens to many people who live in countries with four seasons, like Belgium and Japan. November 2016 was different, because I lived in Thailand, where there are no seasons like in Japan. But that year, I was again in a bit of a self-destructive mood. It also did not help that I was getting over a broken heart (again) and also felt bad I had broken someone else’s heart. I was a mess.
It was also the same autumn I started to read more about forests as a medicine. And yes, nature gave a good medicine to deal with November blues: the autumn colors. Motivated by this knowledge and to get strong again, I visited temples in forest-rich areas in Japan. One day I went to this Buddhist temple cozily tucked into a fold of a forested hill. The autumn colors seemed even more intense than they were in Belgium. In that temple, I greeted an 80-year-old female ginkgo tree. It was like having a tea visit with one of my forty grandmothers. The tea cured my November blues for the next few days. Happily, in the city, I had Ginkgo aunts who could help me through the rest of this seasonal change.
Engaging with my ginkgo aunts freezes time. Especially in autumn. Their golden fan-shaped leaves made even dull days in Nagoya, the city where I lived for almost three years, beautiful. Already in the first week, I was very drawn to a row of gingkgo trees on the campus. I went to them, touched their beautiful green fan-shaped leaves. Then I didn't know they were ginkgos. I often worked in a coffee bar with a view of these gingko trees. I just felt less lonely in their presence. I talked to them when I could not talk to humans. The Ginkgo is quite a loner, because it is the only living species in its family tree. So we became some sort of family.
They are perfect urban trees, because they can tolerate pollution and confined soil spaces. Six ginkgo trees were among the few living things that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. They are survivors who can withstand harsh conditions. The aunts would remind me of my own strength as long as I keep grounding.
In China, the gingko represents the sacred concept of yin and yang, as there are male and female trees. As a mysterious, long-living tree, the gingko was part of a shamanic practice of tree worship, and Daoist shamans would engrave their magical spells and seals on old growth gingko wood in order to communicate with the spirit world. Apparently, I am not the only one talking with ginkgos.
Every time autumn arrives, the memory of them lightens my heart. Some months ago, I opened a book I brought from Japan and found a dried yellow ginkgo leaf. It was the best event of that day.
© Ein_serieller_Rooter 2021-09-18