Wednesday 21.04.2021 Gleann na Phúca

Today we were to meet the O’Riellys at the Blackpool gate H, W, J, HM, L & S. A and I were a little late and waved on the rise as they came towards us shy in our first in person meeting, but familiar from our whatsApp meetings. All excited to be here we greeted one another smiling and headed back down with a plan to turn left or right at will… J took up the lead. I showed the big stone where number 10 egg had lain, we all looked and J produced the ticket, we guessed it was dogs or other animals that left the foil, we climbed up behind here just for the hell of it and spotted I on the other side, it didn’t take much for my voice to carry to Scotland, and we waved, Rhonda the basset hound was all ears to the ground sniffing something down slope, we wondered at her powers of scent. On we went I heard from L with pride that her Mum had found the egg in the Laurel bushes by the stream. J led us on the right path then (as they had taken the left the last time following the map). W remembered the fairy door in the big tree so he took the left path and went to have a chat. We gathered up and raced on S and L instructing the others to let W win , though HM and J could not contain themselves so much and so when we arrived at the snake J and HM were cartwheeling in the sun. It wasn’t long before the the big old Oak tree stump drew us all and where each child launched themselves off in turn, seeing who got the furthest, a toss up between HM and J. We decided not to take the track up the hill because it looked boring, though HM’s pink-outfitted outline could be seen at the cusp of the hill before we even made that decision. We crossed the pitch and saw where the road went to the depot, another deadend, so then down, looking for trees to climb, I thought of the laurels and we talked about teenage parties, H said she managed to keep her vows after her confirmation till she was of age to drink, (A said fair play, as she hadn’t managed and her friend had been bribed but still failed in the attempt). We passed through the Fleischmann zone, and the old mill walls where the kids had found so many eggs, J and HM striking off up behind the Grafitti wall where we surprised some young adults and gave them a bit of a wide berth, and moved on to the Laurels. Here J climbed a branch and couldn’t find his way back down and so he had to lean himself into H’s arms, while she berated him for his lack of trust. We emerged at the upper field and curved on back into the Glen not taking the steps but the upper road, we talked of the blackened hill from the recent burning and how sad that was, they had seen the other earlier patch the last time. I urged the kids along the high path but it had already got overgrown and we had to double back, slip sliding down the slopes, it was all a bit hairy and H skidded on the way down saying she would follow me the next time, I found the place I knew with the roots for steps. We went on up along the newly beaten high path even more newly scorched and down to the Grassy Knoll where there were young people sitting on the benches and others collecting gorse flowers. Onward down the steep slope to the Grove the Y tree and all the sycamore saplings. We talked of the valley and it’s East West orientation, L was fascinated about knowing the directions and found North and South, her home being West of here, in line with the valley, we talked of the the sun setting in different places as the earth tilts sunwards in the summer, elongating the days, even though it may appear to be that the earth spinning slower these months. Nature was calling for HM and she wanted to get back, J was collecting a small posy of bluebell and dandelion I gave him some wild garlic to smell and we added that and a daisy. W raced along the gravel towards the fairy door but skidded and fell, bleeding his finger, he was crying with the shock and hurt of it, and then we saw the grazing on his arm too, tired and inconsolable, H said he could go on like that for hours if he woke up in such a mood, I suggested we might wash it in the well but there was no going back until A produced a crumpled tissue from her pocket and magically soothed the hurt and the roars. In the pause W said my head, H lifted his fringe and there was a huge bump on his right temple. W was managing now, the wee soldier and the real bump emerged as another source of consolation. We found a buttercup and looked at its shining light, I asked him if he knew how to tell if his mum liked butter, and then showed him, we used this magic yellow glow to reflect on the wounds and heal them, we found a celandine too and used this, though with less effect. A and H had strode on and were sitting on the big rocks at the gate waiting for us as we climbed the Blackpool slope. H had been talking about other trips and how much the family liked Farran woods where J senior liked to join in with the fishing, I thought he might be interested in the men collecting minnows for bait in their cones at this end of the Glen. The others were all installed in the car ready for home. I realised we may have done too much after a long day at school. H had to bribe a volunteer to go in the boot, J took her up on the offer and all strapped in we waved them off. Next trip Fota.

Published by @julforres

Julie Forrester, artist based in Cork City Ireland

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