I had a walk with V this morning, we met on Whatsapp at 8.15 from a wet and haily Sligo to a bright and frosty Cork. The sun was sliding into the Glen from the East and unfreezing the frost.
We talked about real contact in this time of social distancing and lockdown, about the inner dialogue with an audience, needing an external response to see where we are at and to catalyze a spiralling outwards and onwards for the work, and my sense of being in a vacuum without my usual contact with groups. V was a perfect witness in this process. The screens on our phones were more of a distraction as we each made our way in tandem through our places, checking the screen occasionally only, when we wanted to share a fancy fungus or the flattened grass where a fawn had rested. I talked about my attempts at mapping, and we talked about questions of accuracy, and how mapping from memory can be more authentic than going for topographical accuracy – how disappointed I had been to find the actual position of the benches in relation to the hill paths of the Glen – my memory had a kind of musical notation that fell flat when I attempted to make it anatomically correct. We talked about dreaming and how illusive it is when we try too hard to remember, to tie it down. We talked about the significance of naming and how names deepen our relationship with places and other beings, V spoke of a certain resistance to naming, especially the Latin names used in botanical classification, and I was remembering my reading from yesterday when Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks of how her students grow a fraternity from learning and sharing the scientific names of mosses: “The students exchange these words like the secret language of a fraternity, and I watch the bond between them grow” V and we talk about personal naming , an idiosyncratic naming of things and how this can be shared or private I think of how our Friends of The Glen is becoming community, through naming from shared experiences and time spent together, I tell V about “the Wall of the Hand of God” V tells of ‘Canada’ in Sligo and I bring V to ‘Scotland’ in the Glen. I show her the pitted charcoal stem of some blackened Gorse, glittering now, sparkles of frost in the sun, past fire and present ice. We talked about the history layered in places, so different in an urban environment to that of a parkland, and our conversation veered to what was under the Glen, train tunnels skirting the West side, and the sounds of water I hear everywhere, from over and underground drainage systems.. (and sewers?) V reminds me of Robert MacFarlane’s Underland and I vow to read a chapter when I get home. We talk about the rock, Cork limestone and sandstone, the red and white of the city colours, I must look up a geological map of the Glen.