It’s a greyish morning early as I stroll down Sunview East into the park. I am appreciating the bareness before the promise of Spring growth, it’s the first week of hedgrow protections and from now until September is the official time of respect for nesting birds and animal life.
On the way to the Fleischmanns I spy an odd thing nestling into the bare edging by the wall, a square of tupperware…I imagine one of the Glen river Fisherman has lost, or planted his bait box and I am torn between the temptation to pry it open and giving it a miss. I walk on by and go on to the stone walled banks to see how the brown silt has left the the river, hoping I will be lucky enough to say hello to the Dipper in her place by the bridges. There and then not there, I am pleased to see she is around – her usual flicker presence. The wood anemones are emerging on the banks and, as I pass back westaways, I see some of the bug motels are still hanging, it’s this kindness that gives me the courage to go back and open the box.
I find some clues – a bus ticket from Youghal and a date, I add an ivy leaf and re-incapsulate this little time machine, replacing the box, willing it to be engulfed once again by this season’s growth.
I remember to take a photo of the pipe that runs alongside the metal bridge, we were talking about it – “is it ceramic or concrete or steel?” asks GO’B , either of the former two could be sewer conduits, and only the latter, water. I think it is concrete with shiny steel fixings … odd to think of this charge running across the river coming from the hollowness that resounds all about us here in the Glen valley.
I walk on and find the wind has picked up even at ground level, buffeting the seeds of a decapitated bulrush that crosses my path
The Heron is out fishing, a picture of patience, still and intent on the water, as focused as I am – being in stealth for a shot of him up close – it’s a game, balancing and sensing a hyper awareness that at any moment might trigger flight and a missed breakfast, we both know the stakes. I pass by not knowing. On again, and I see there are offerings on the empty pedestal, a child perhaps has left an arrangement, a lingering mark of some other kind of intention, a kind of blessing it seems, so tender, to one who comes later, feeling the touch possibly even the next day and beyond.
There are other markings, these are of machines. I have been warned about their presence in the old orchard. Sickening brutality, here at the well, so opposite to the tender stroke I’ve just passed by at the pedestal alter. This is the first week of the hedge-cutting ban and I imagine the orders were to get in quick with the machines. The apple tree seems to be still hanging on by a thread, we’ll see – while the turkey tails have been chopped from their habitat and are left abandoned in the wake of those heavy clay tracks, the truncated trees call out like silent sirens calling from their claggy terrestrial abyss. I pass on up to the high ground and am comforted by the mother oak, stepping over a stone in the path with its quartz seam lined up in my direction. There are machine markings everywhere and as I realise they have chopped the ‘dead elms’ I am charged with an image and the sudden loss of their lightening branches reaching so beloved on blue sky days.
There are heaps of neatly stacked branches in the dumping ground, no machine to do this job, though the smear of sawdust is a reminder. I must pass the S wall and feel the gap of the witchy tree that is missing since last year in another felling bout. As I leave I peer through the grill at the depot, and see again the careful stacks of limbs that rise and dwindle across the seasons.