It’s high summer here in Invergarry. In the Scottish Highlands that means one thing – rain. You see, we live on the edge of a rainforest. Not a tropical one (we’re nowhere near the Equator) but a temperate one.
They aren’t as well known as their tropical cousins, but there are more temperate rainforests in the world than most people think. They sit towards the far ends of each hemisphere and are located on the edge of an ocean, with the weather coming at them from the west off the water. They will have mountains to catch the clouds and of course lots of trees. The weather fronts roll in off the oceans and dump their rain on the mountains and their forests.
Because we love visiting mountain ranges and aren’t so keen on tropical climates we have visited more than our fair share of these forests in our travels, in the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada, New Zealand, Tasmania and Chile. But since moving to Invergarry we have realised that we actually have a rainforest on our own doorstep.
The conditions in our local forests are the classic ones. There is an ocean nearby, there are high hills, lots of trees, lots of daylight hours in summer and the temperature is just right (not too hot, and nice and humid). The result is that in the summer the forests and all the land around us explodes in a profusion of greenery. The growing season is short, and so the plants and trees grow fast and they grow thick. All around the grasses and leaves appear in abundance, along with the classic rainforest species of mosses and ferns. There is life and growth everywhere. When we go for walks locally we are reminded constantly of the other rainforests we have visited and we realise how lucky we are to live here.
Summer and autumn in this landscape are also ideal for food foragers, if you know where to look. At this stage of the year the wild strawberry season has almost ended. Currently the wild raspberries are becoming ripe. Next come the blackberries and blaeberries. And all the time the fungi grow everywhere. Soon it will be the time for gathering edible mushrooms. We haven’t learned the art yet (it’s dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing) but the autumn brings out large numbers of fungi foragers.
If you visit here in the summer, try to look behind the weather forecast and learn to embrace the diversity of our climate and our flora. Hug a tree for us.