It's a fucking stupid day, and you'll never change my mind about it.
I mean, if you need a arbitrary, socially-agreed upon day to tell those you love that you love them, maybe you should bail on those relationships, because you're doing it wrong.
Right, enough of that. This post is not going to be a screed against the stupidest fucking day of the year, no matter how much I detest it.
For the record, I'm not against love or the profession of love. In fact, I think that love - true, genuine love - is extraordinarily admirable. Hints at this can be seen all through my writing. Love is everywhere. It's not usually front and centre of a story, but it is there, in all its various forms.
This is not true of Daughters of Britain. In this novel, love takes a a far more central role in the story than in most of my other ones. Thought the tale is not about the love between the two protagonists - it's more about surviving in a world determined to exterminate them - that love does play a fairly central role in the story. In particular, it is the determining factor in how the protagonists interact with one another. And, in a rare play for me, in the end, the love is realized and the two live as happily ever after as one can under constant persecution.
Daughters of Britain has two settings. The middle of the story is largely set in Gaul (modern-day France). But what bookends the tale is the landscape of what would become modern day region of Scotland. When we think of Scotland, we imagine long lakes, rocky crags and grassy mountains. But at the time that Daughters of Britain takes place, the region was covered in vast, ancient forests. The long lakes were still there, of course, but the slopes of those mountains were covered in trees; filled with wild boar, beaver, lynx, wolf and brown bears.
That's all gone now. People hunted the boars, beavers, lynxes, wolves and bears to extinction. They cut down the forests, creating the landscape we see today.
Knowing this makes me rather sad. I would have loved to see the Highlands of the Iron Age, to walk in the ancient forests of Caledonia...
Turns out, I'm not the only one.
There's a whole charity revolved around regrowing the Caledonian Forest. They've already reintroduced beavers into Scotland. There's talk of also reintroducing the lynx. One person wants wolves and brown bears also brought back, but admits that would be a very difficult sell. All of this activity is part of a world-wide movement called re-wilding; the effort to return destroyed ecosystems to their pre-humans-wrecked-everything status.
You wouldn't think that the Highlands was something that needed this intervention. But they do. While we've never known it to be the case, almost all of Britain was heavily forested.
I was really excited to discover that there were people in the world working to re-wild parts of Scotland. I wanted in. So I did some research about this re-wilding project, and discovered that it was possible not only to purchase individual trees to plant to re-create the Caledonian Forest, but to sponsor an entire grove.
So, sponsor an entire grove I did.
I talked about doing it previously, but never really had the funds to do it. Now I have a little spare change, so I went ahead and did the thing.
I chose the re-wilding of Caledonia precisely because of Daughters of Britain, because it was set in the heavily forested region currently the focus of the re-wilding project. And, because I created this grove in February, the month of Valentine's Day, I decided to dedicate it to Mederei and Adalbern; the protagonists of the novel, whose love is, even if I do say so myself, profound.
When you sponsor a grove, you get to name it. So I named it Gàrradg nan Leannan - The Garden of the Lovers.
(At least, I really hope that's the proper translation. Scots Gaelic is not my language, and I had to rely on translators)
I was going to name it in Welsh, since it is the direct linguist descendent of the language spoken all throughout Britain at the time of the original Calendonian Forest, but I decided to use Scots Gaelic instead. I figured they'd probably use a translation of the original name (or would have renamed it in honour of the tale) if the events of Daughters of Britain were real, instead of fictitious.
This is what I received via email when I created this grove:
The plan is to donate half of all the royalties from Daughters of Britain to buy trees and fill this grove.
"But, Sonia," I hear no one ask. "Don't you want to have your royalties support you? How on earth do you ever expect to have that happen if you're giving half of them away like this?"
To answer, yes. The dream is to have my books support me, that I might become a full time writer. However, I also want to leave this world a little better than it was when I arrived. I might never make it as a full time writer, and if I waited until I got 'big' to start improving the world, I may never do anything at all. It's not much, I admit. I'm not selling well. I imagine few trees will get planted.
But it's something. It's a start. It's what I can do at the moment.
Besides, it's only half of the royalties for one book. I have eight published. Hopefully I'll have more in the near future. And if I do make it big, well then Gàrradh nan Leannan will be a big, beautiful grove, and that would make me very happy indeed.
So, if you feel like it, you can make my Valentine's Day a day I hate less by heading over to my grove's donation page here and buy a tree to plant. It's £6.00 to plant a tree. That'll be less than $11.00 in Canadian dollars.
Alternatively, you can buy Daughters of Britain for everyone in your life, knowing you're helping the environment, or promote the hell out of the book or the grove.
Make Valentine's Day a little less fucking stupid (couldn't resist), and you can even do it while still celebrating the spirit of the day; celebrating love, even if it's fictional love. Hell, buy your loved one a tree to prove your love. Everybody wins!
Okay, this was a very long post, so I'm going to leave it here. Thanks for reading this far if you made it.
Have yourselves a lovely weekend, despite it being Valentine's Day weekend.