Friday took me twice to the Glen, for a swift round to work the bones and the body, I doffed my cap to the big ashes at the barrier and the zigzag. Later a midday meeting on the grass, it was warmer today and we were able to linger and indulge in chats with other park walkers M the dancer, A the writer and in passing MB the path-keeper/swing-maker/hearth-builder.
Saturday I had a meeting with G a young friend who is in her first discoveries of plant chemistry, after a strange coming of age in covid. We went looking for plants for her herbarium and we catch up a little with one another from the ‘Mother and Daughter’ days of 2017. It was fun leading her to my favourite sites and being invited by G to linger awhile as she explores and shares her burgeoning knowledge, using botanist language and classifications which are far removed from my untutored and more prosaic contact. I’m looking forward to seeing this thing, the herbarium which conjures dioramas in glass cases with exhibits teeming with harboured life forms, but sounds a little more like annotated Victorian pressed flower notebooks – still beautiful. I see her delicately handling each plant as she tenderly plucks them, reassured by my observations that the ones she picks are plentiful, wind sown or suckered claimers of territory. Again I am entranced by the different habitats as G is looking for monocots and dicots and other specifics that lead us to different parts of the Glen, and my eyes open to new perspectives on the places I know. I find myself leading her to sites “where the grasses grow” or to a stone wall where we may find a navel wort for her collection, in passing she plucks a branch from the pine on the west side and informs me of this gymnosperm’s dispersal of seeds without skins from what are now the tiny budding cones. I hear that gymnosperm means naked seed or a seed without a fruit. And so I learn a cone is not a fruit. It’s lovely to be with someone who is entranced by her discoveries. I see her off at the West gate, late now for her appointment with her lover in town.
Earlier, on the high pass on the ridge we had passed a rather surreal sight of 5 girls of ever decreasing size, each one a smaller version of the last, all dressed in casual clothes of the most delicate pink, and each carrying a back pack, also pink, they looked to me like they may be of Mongolian origin, the oldest may have been around nine and I as I wonder if they’ve come alone I see a man who has taken the lower path, also carrying a pack and a stick, he looks like a local but seems to be their guardian. When I double back from the gate I see them up on the high ridge still, under the oak, and there is a wisp of smoke rising from the fire pit, the older girl is swinging high and I imagine the others are toasting marshmallows. My brother phones and I am distracted, but my curiosity is piqued and so after a brief chat I head back up through the gothic zone and go say hello. They are toasting marshmallows – I feel I must have smelled the caramelling vanilla from below. There is another man who looks like their Dad, swinging a giggling baby up high while her sister joins in on the swing. I looke down and see the newly painted surviving gate post, old entry to a long gone property.
There has been activity on the FotG page and some new photos have emerged of this part of the Glen and so I pace around the site of the Engineers house looking for markers, the sluice gate, the gatepost, and boundary fence, the curved wall, the apple tree…memories come up through the comments on the Old Photos of Cork FB, and I make a note to follow some of these up. I notice that one of the most prominent abiding features is a small triangular section of grass that delineates the veering of a path away from the gateposts of the Engineer’s property, a triangular piece in the puzzle of no man’s land