I love and envy the thistle. I feel guilty for my love. I know it shouldn't be here. I know it's a noxious weed. A toxic pest. Feral. I know it wrecks havoc.
And yet. I love the contrast of it's soft, glowingly white thistledown, it's jagged spikes. I love the gentle purple shades of it's flower, and the aggressive jutting thorns encasing the flower.
I love it's links to Scotland - the place I almost belong. I was conceived there, I went to school there for a year, I've worked there and visited again and again... and yet. I know it isn't mine. My fleeting visits - even a year at a time aren't long enough to truly know.
It's stories and folklore, it's history are mine. I trace my mothers tree back - mother to mother - seven generations to a small town near Elgin and a woman whose daughter has 'illegitimate' scrawled across her death certificate.
My mDna tells my my maternal ancestors have links to Orkney going back thousands of years.
My father was born in Scotland - his family tree trace back through generation upon generation of Scottish lowlanders and people criss-crossing backwards and forwards from Northern Ireland.
The thistle is from my roots - neither of us belong here - our mere presence causes damage, is a reminder of genocide and destruction, and yet. I can't wish myself not here. And I admire the thistles beauty and the memories and sense of belonging it engenders.
And I'm jealous of how well the thistle has adapted. My pale, sun-blotched skin, headache prone blue eyes, heat-wilting person, tells me every day how poorly suited I am for this environment.
The sight of the thistle takes me away for a moment to gentle mists and cool and invigorating cold. To a place of belonging and time.