We were privileged to be part of a special Gaelic Nova Scotia Month event yesterday in Inverness. May 1 is not only May Day, it’s La Bealltainn (Beltane), the Celtic May Day, and it coincides with Arbor Day (U.S.).
What better way to celebrate such a day than to mark the beginning of “Calum’s Forest,” a Gaelic forest trail at the Inverness County Centre for the Arts (ICCA).
Thanks to Frank Macdonald’s world-class novel, A Forest for Calum (CBU Press 2005), readers around the world know that the Gaelic alphabet coincides with the names of trees: A is alm (elm); B is beith (birch).
Inspired by the characters in the novel, an arboretum has been designed in a wooded area adjacent to the Centre. And it was officially launched with a ceremonial tree planting. We love the connection between the planting of a tree and Gaelic Nova Scotia month’s theme: “Gaelic Runs Deep Here.”
The first tree, a hazel (coll), was planted by author Frank Macdonald and Mi’kmaw Elder Tiny Cremo, who related for us the close connection between Mi’kmaq and nature and made an offering with burning sweetgrass.
When completed, Calum’s Forest will spell out in trees, the Gaelic sentiment: “cuimhnichibh air na daoine bho ’n d’thainig sibh” (remember the people from whom you came).
Calum’s Forest and trail is being developed by ICCA in partnership with the Inverness Development Assoc., Morgans Brook Landscaping, NSCC Kingstec and Strait Area campuses and students from Inverness Academy.
Visitors to the centre were also treated to its Shared Stories of Inverness County Gaels exhibit.
Thanks to Inverness Gaelic learner Caroline Cameron for keeping us informed and involved.