Tuesday 15 August 2023

I am back in the Glen in the early morning, its a time of a coming new moon and transition… dead dry docs are stalking through the still lush grass …rowan fruiting vermillion, chestnuts spiking up and the Chicken of the Woods returns to the womb of the hollowed poplar stump making a basket of itself, a broken branch in one of the Swamp Cyprus augurs the fall while its sibling tree harbours in her skirts a world of ripenings and the Miller is at it again growing and clutching all that falls in into its fruiting body

and all the while the river flows on by…..

I find some strange feathered script messaging my path and I dance back with it …hatching

I am overjoyed to see the mugwort re-emerge, last year it was squashed and demolished by tractor activity, it seems the tractor not only failed to kill the plant but carried some seed heads in its tracks and redeposited them in its wake…way hay for the mugwort

https://www.outdoorapothecary.com/mugwort/: Tuesday 15 August 2023

As I pass the well there is a downy fall of small white feathers

liftings, slippings….Tuesday 14 March 2023

It’s raining a cold March rain as I stand at the Snake awaiting the arrival of A, who is searching for her red wellies… my gaze meanders over the familiar patchwork; circles squares texts and textures…the musical notes, the yinyang, always landing on Vincey Long is a Legend… I remember V the child, back in 2005 carving his clay, a solid kid dense with his own living gravity and lifted by a light humour, I hear he has his own kids now.

It’s a while before I see the crumpled shape of the bin, door swinging and bare metal, the remains of molten matter leaking out and a fresh black bag inside… pushing the door closed I see it is beyond easy repair, it needs a panel beater to get it back in shape, how long? It had a good stretch, it’s been 3 years since the beginning of the pandemic lock down Friday 13 of 2020.

I have been away from my old extraordinary routine. A arrives and we cast off West, unusually. Catching up on our bits and business we barely notice the park go by, meeting J, the dog fosterer, with her 3 legged black spotted lurcher, her doe eyed brindle, and a judgy chiwawa under her arm, she is with another familiar face, and dogs. It’s only as we mount the high ground that we land in the park, walking into our shadows in the evening sun, the weather has cleared and we see the burnings have started, the black scars on the surface bring us home to the rhythms of the Glen. Sadly we move along looking out for surviving trees one sapling rises, with its livid red trunk, more of a stem, we can’t tell if its taken on the colour of the fire, there’s not really enough for us to identify it, there seem to be surviving buds on its skinny branches..looking down we see an abandoned bicycled in the council dumping place, A says she needs a bike, and retracts, her tiny home won’t take another piece, and who would lift this anyway as we know it’s not been left by itself.


Passing more burned patches we see many rising saplings that may have survived among the strong oak babies that have weathered years of the pattern. A takes to the swing, swinging high over everything, gently back and forth in the evening light , her detached shadow rhyming out across the heath, unloosed from her foothold on the ground. we linger a while me leaning up against the mother oak, among her family.


Back down through the gothic zone elders and thorny trees are growing up where the old Golum stump rots down, past the well and onto the path. The mallards show us their rumps as we pass, we see the pretty lilac colour that becomes a sack of poo snagged on the briars and dripping in the evening light.

Passing a couple of Magpies we stop at the bench with its new grafitti, Farsi I fancy, Sri Lankan A offers, knowing we are both wrong, it’s fluid lines red as A’s boots. stop to spend some time with a blackbird its black shape and golden beak so deeply exotic in the bare branches looking back, hungry I imagine, birdsong fills the air. We both stop at the witchy willow, eyes seeking the remains of the young fox in its resting ground, there is nothing obvious, no scent, A sees something under the water but we both know its from the searching the vision comes, gone fox. Into the Fleischmann place A spots a yellow glimmering, daffodils in the woods and as we move towards them there is a lifting and white wing tips, we have disturbed a buzzard, I feel the familiar blessing and all is well. Back along Rope walk we see the other bin has survived a burning, its front face still bears a coat of paint and the lock still holds firm the door.

We are on the home stretch and glide on up the hill full of our experience in the glen and once more lost in mundane conversation until we arrive at the corner and kiss our cheeks goodbye

Solstice 2022

Another gap, plenty of water under the bridge. flowing flowing

Back to the Glen

I stand over the river facing the disappearing waters as they flow under me away from me

this is the direction for the turning of the year, watching the waters wash westwards the low sun rising at my back we are attuned to the same direction, the tilt and spin and rounding of the year. There is a red embering through the mossy wickers, the deep breast of a robin, who alights in the branches at the riverside, I have barely moved in a timeless length from this standing, we whisper to one another our breaths disappearing outwards into the air about us as the water flows on and on.

Later I see a strange thing near the Willow a slant and bald presence in the boggy wetland and something shaggy beside it I can’t quite make out… oh ’tis a fox , a cub in a silent trajectory tail and snout in one sleek line, breathless, motionless, stilled.

The pool by the Alder spirals, gathers rain drops dials in and spins out on course liquid light fluid motion

Alderpool Solstice 2022

Across the Bridge October into November colours Wednesday 2 Nov 2022

It is the time of suspension and falling and the glimmering colours before the quiet release …the most gentle sweep to sustain into the dead still of the Cailleach’s grip.

hawthorn and sorbus berries, scarlet and vermillion – October CRUSH – golden stars of maple and sycamore, fallen acorns hatching pink seekers all rain-swept in growth or in decay or in offering. I play hide and seek in the long grass, picking up small handfuls of vibrant matter, five or six berries at a time,

crossing my path is a stone holding down the five limbed star of a field maple, pinned somehow purposefully there by wind, or weather, or dog , or child. Another leaf dwindles and turns in the nave of arcing branches amid the falling surrender of leaves

Each day the same way in, the way down promises clouds and skies – the swirling shifts of weather even in this small crucible of the Glen


and the small oak by the well is still yielding an abundance of acorns into the ground where the mowers will one day come – I arrive and pocket on successive days the small oak beings, some still in their caps, some knocked out of them, so ready to become earthed in, already sending energetic feelers for the deep, my dress and coat bulging with new prospects; some for sowing with Trees Please, and some for throwing on the highlands, a good enough ritual for Samhain on the cusp of a new year.

throwing Acorns

And the next day I stand sheltering under another mother oak, before more i do more castings of baby oaks brought from the valley floor

This third day of gathering I find a seedling has begun rooting where it fell, here under the crown of mama tree, so I must pull, more than pluck it from the ground, these babies will take their chances on the steep hard slopes of the valley’s walls, must find a resting place among the bracken skin, which has taken over from the gorse, whose skeletons remain withered now and blackened from successive spring burnings … I am praying the wind and rain will drive these little time capsules into the ground where they will take root out of reach of next year’s fires and the next and the next…until strong enough to spread roots and oak arm in oak arm can shoulder more.

Tuesday 18th October 2022 Chestnut Tree

Today I feel I may have got my last haul from the bole of the chestnut tree… “my chestnut tree” who presides over the entrance to Glenview park.

As I write this I feel the precariousness of her position, on a road, a conduit East – West across the City’s Northside, but thankfully not the main one, she is the guardian of our park. I have been picking up the glowing kernels since September where they fall. This patch, like all the roadside verges is managed by the council, who mow here regularly, and I harbour feelings of guilt over my obsessive pickings, knowing that they would be crushed and turned to mulch, like the husks I leave behind, to feed the earth. Knowing my intervention will have repercussions these thoughts are brought into the mix of the ritual of the circling of the tree. Tuning into the ground beneath my feet, the domes of empty shell subtly different to those containing nut or the slide of nut alone. I enjoy becoming sensitised through my soles to the ground beneath, to the offerings of the tree. I have seen the freshly opened linings of the newly fallen by their glowing white, these alert me to a new finding, a singular new finding of findings which accumulate with each new passing. Some cases have had their conkers bounced completely out and I will find the chestnut in the grass nearby, while others split off a segment, which will indicate nearby a cloister of the other two sections harbouring the glossy brown treasure which, on picking I will prise from its spongy satin walls yielding its soapy inner skin. Today I find a small naked one in the grass, it may be one I overlooked, it’s skin is darkened and it lacks the lustre of the newly hatched, but as usual, the finding of one opens the forager’s sixth sense, alerting me to others nestling nearby, the prickly outside looking more whole somehow, betraying their bountiful presence as they hide among the grass. Today I find six in all, rich pickings as I had expected fewer, anticipating my final haul…when this day comes it will be momentous… it will have already passed.. – We have had heavy rains and winds and sunny spells on the in-between days across last week, culminating with a major deluge on Sunday. All of this intention for collecting of gatheirng my senses and noticing has massed into a ritual and an aknowledgment of my relationship with tree: the circles happen, beginning in the middle ground , radiating to the outsides, coming back in close as I tread the ground, all senses alert, to ground and not least to passers by as I must have become a regular site here treading and circling, bending and peering and plucking at the base of a tree who yields no fruit for regular, adult behavior. On the final inner circle I remember to touch the bark and as I leave I look back at the tree her branches now showing plenty of sky, she is etched in my mind as I leave for home with whatever haul I’ve made for the day.

I wonder sometimes at the need for this foraging, summoning an ancient instinct of hunter gatherer ancestry, a need for deep connection with land and soil of changing seasons and nature’s bounty, as the days grow shorter a gathering of stores, the squirrel in me harbours this joy and impulse to collect. In my studio they gather, I’ve been informed that the gases emitted by horse chestnuts will ward off spiders, (the arachnophobe in me is grateful). I’ve seen recipes for crushing the chestnuts into laundry soap. I fend off practical uses for the chestnuts, the ritual of collecting is all I need, a connection with tree without any purpose is important, the connection made in movement, gesture, time and repetition the reciprocity I have bound in spell between tree and me. A song.

In the studio I look for the brown of the nut in layers of colour I put down on paper, attempting to build the pattern and depth while the nut retains its lustre, the chestnuts darken quickly withdrawing back into themselves and contract, hard and wizened on the strings I’ve made. I have a whole tree’s season of chestnuts here… I imagine that with due diligence I have gathered not quite every single one the tree has produced this year. There, with a couple of additional nuts from Birr, some from the trees in the park and from the tree up the road … the exceptions proving the rule… or the glitches which take us out of the rut, essential catalysts for a spiralling evolution ( I see more burnt orange in the nuts from Birr)… or a proof that I move about the land a little further than the doorstep of home… or a network greeting other trees in other parts… All of this, and not a betrayal as I have pondered before, a mapping of migrations and returnings.

I remember the gathering of different numbers on different occasions … at the height of the season there were too many to hold in view, but latterly there have been the constellations formed by different numbers 11, 12, 4, 6. The numbers resonate in patterns, emitting a certain tone, the ultimate collection of 6 appears somehow like a 5, one elides another in the pattern of its placement, in my minds eye, and in its relationship with the others. The mixture of sizes plays with distance and proximity in the same way we perceive and judge the stars. How they look on my table, each makes contact with the surface at its shadow, another form cast from the light behind, showing a weightiness and, at the same time a lively buoyancy at its contact with the ground, a contrariness that has fascinated me of matter held together in this way, each a capsule of itself.

The connection I feel is a musical one, repetition, rhythm, weight, buoyancy, proximity, distance, glossiness fading to dullness, iteration, reiteration, chestnut as notation… somehow I want to express the song.

Addendum – later on Tuesday …

In retrospect I must have been aware of the motors yesterday … I took off for an evening stroll and greeted the tree, where I found the ground was patterned with drifts from blade and tyre, leaves mulched, linear heaps of decaying brown in the newly leveled live green … here a different kind of tide mark from the rains, I note the overlay of tractor trails on my walking patterns circling the tree, I see the old horse chestnut shells now mixed up with shorn and torn leaves I see conkers, unharmed still, peeping out from the piles I collect them all – 8 beauties so this was the last day of the conker …perhaps

I have been reading about becoming compost seemingly online, I find Sophie Strand reciting her I will not be purified (Amanda Palmer and others here providing the fertile soil out of which the words can grow) and have drifted across her in conversation with Andreas Weber about the indiscriminate eroticism of becoming food, the act of love in decay, a yielding and active participation in earthly cycles … it all rings very true with me <3

The perfect Grey Tues 11 Oct 22

Walking the park midday is not my favourite time, missing the birds, the world is in full tilt and the light is flatter, this morning was dull when I expected blue skies, there’s nip in the air, I busy about my morning till after midday when I strike out to deliver some Glen booklets to groups up the road. On the way I pass a crow and a gull trapped mid-flight in death, it seems some scrap on the road brought has them down in beak to beak battle. Now rolled over by traffic, head of gull is submerged among wing feathers, beak of crow is energetic still, weapon-like and bundled against the shiny dead eye and deep black head – betraying the tender feathers of a young one. I had been attracted to this spot by the dazzling yellow heads of sunflowers, incongruous here on the nomansland corner of the housing estate, heavy heads bowed and bobbing, constrained and supported by the railings that skirt that vacant space left by the demolition, and erasure of the old Glen flats. Here with their backs to the houses they are tuned to any drama that might emerge before them. I am certain they have witnessed more than the evidence I see now. I walk on further and come across a large gull, soft, gentle, dead, an unmarked beauty, it could be sleeping still with its head curled almost under wing, its soft beige greys and ‘off’ whites all setting a peaceful scene of downy softness – (the Irish word bán, being a better word for this gentle milky colour, that draws you in rather than hitting the light right back at you). Resting at the kerb, I stop to take some photos of her sleeping eye, a woman approaches sad, I wonder aloud if it could be the wave of avian flu blowing across the land and sea, she says she often sees them killed here, she feeds them sometimes and nods to the grassy bank across the road, and cares deeply about them, having pigeons of her own. Later walking back I notice the bird is lying in a bed of squashed potato chips.

So on my outward mission I pass the chestnut tree, gathering this morning 11 new conkers and adding a few, now on my return, from nearby trees. I feel a loyalty to my tree and hold the chestnuts from each other tree in different places, shoving them into different pockets and keeping the 11 in my bag. I ponder making a gesture to my tree – to leave a neighbouring conker at the roots, but decide against it, instead I pick up a twelfth for my bag before sauntering on the the Glen.

The height of the day is not my favourite time here, and I am glad to come across Donal, who is sitting on the bench near the Rowan that once was. He is keen to chat about energy and the cost of living about renewables and solutions and the old days of layering and new leaps in understanding about farming, nutrition and the science of it all. I like his kind grey blue eyes, while he talks I am distracted by the Sorbus by the bridge, its open winter crown, a dome of colour, berries luminous, greys and greens of leaves against the pale sky, their undersides lifting the colour to that bán I noticed earlier in the gull, I change the subject, unable to stop myself remarking on the beauty of the colours, and Donal names the Sorbus, he talks about the bark matching the perfect grey to the colour of the leaves in spring, as I listen I am seeing another perfect harmony, vermillion berries abstract from this distance, pure colour brightening the October song…. Josef Albers plays impressionist. We both agree it’s good to live in the moment, appreciating what we have here and now as we walk along talking about travel, the Swedes and the Irish, seeking winter sun, the queues and the pleasure being knocked out of it.

Conkers and the moon…Monday 10 Oct 22

The horse chestnut tree is releasing its fruit; for a month I have been passing by and picking up the fallen ones – I find them bounced on the concrete, scattered across the tarmac, cracked open along the seams, released from their fleshy enclosure, in the grass an eye opens in the gap. I have learnt to spot the freshly fallen kernels in the grass by looking for the whitest linings, not yet tarnished by sun and air, they lie open and empty, betraying the refuge of nut in earth, I fill my pockets. Each time I pass I am reminded by the massing shells of the bounty I have stolen. These massive seeds were destined for the council mower, a crushing and splitting and eventual return to the earth, not to seed and grow but to feed the mother tree in endless cycle of growth and production, without offspring. I feel my intervention and part in this cycle is one of thief and also, partially, savior. It’s compulsive, I can’t resist the glossy chestnut brown, the light in its skin best while fresh, the opening from the flesh, the unique smooth fingerprint of growing pattern across its tightly wrought surface, the sheer potential in its watery weight. The discovery of each one is a delicious hunt for treasure and pleasure in skin and eye.

We have had clear nights and the sky full of moon and Jupiter, whose orbit is in perigree, and at its nearest to earth since 1963. The nights are full of this light, the conkers are all released now with the waning of the moon. I will of course check in with them again tomorrow.

In the park the rowan stump wears a rosary someone else appears to care as much as me for the sad departure of a beautiful tree

green beads, wooden carved appear like echos of the berries that would be burning red right now, the Irish name for this tree is Luis, meaning flame.

Blue zip opening Sat 1 – Thurs 6 October 2022

It’s past the autumn equinox, the days are shortening into winter and time has flown, flowed in summer flux since my last postings …I have been away from the Glen, lost my footing there with all of my busyness … the connection is fragile, on the surface at least … the connection needs continuity …last Saturday the first of October we passed through the Glen, the surface place it has become, 4 pm and en route, destined elsewhere, for mushroom foraging in the far field on the hill, our perimeter… We stopped on the metal bridge looking East into the Fleischmann place, I was with R, when something zipped from under us, a blue flash electric and gone, we look at one another.. a trailing spark, we say to each other …did you see that…? So small so quick, flash, kingfisher, singular, just the one, not imagined, seen. Sweeping through the same bridge I stood a year ago, or more, looking in the opposite direction, remembering the juvenile I saw, skimming the water from under the bridge curling westwards past the Alder pool and the OPW marker into the marsh not at all blue but white and black. Has it grown up? I feel pulled in, welcomed back, the Glen is opening up to me once more. I am beholden.