There’s still plenty of natural beauty to see out there within 5km

For 40 days during the second lockdown, student ecologist and writer RICHARD GORDON visited places of natural beauty within 5km of his Cork city home. Here he reflects on the process and tells us where he spent the past 10 days of Level 5 restrictions
There’s still plenty of natural beauty to see out there within 5km

 The Fountain at Fitzgerald's Park. Pictures by Richard Gordon.

THE end of the lockdown has thankfully arrived. As I sit and type, I can’t tell if time has gone by slowly or quickly.

The past six weeks feels like a flat plateau of time, without peaks or troughs, just a steady happening, rolled out, day by day.

It started with autumn looking alive and vibrant. Bright yellows and earthy reds were scattered like infinite brushstrokes around our greenspaces. Skies were open and fresh. Now, the skies are hanging lower and heavier, full of floating lakes of particulate water ready to fall. The trees have slowly shed their summer coats and are almost stripped bare again; preparing themselves for a sleepy winter of dormancy, with little energy necessary.

Reflecting over my own lockdown, I feel quite lucky to have found something that’s kept me inspired. This rather romantic endeavour of visiting beautiful areas in and around Cork city has kept me grateful for what I have, it’s kept me busy, and it’s kept me outside in the fresh air always looking for that something I haven’t seen yet.

You’d be amazed as to how many things you haven’t seen that are right under your nose when your eyes are wide enough to take them in.

As much as I love seeing beautiful trees carving up the morning sun, or mist rising from greens, or reflections in streams, or wild reds and purples and blues above the horizon at sunset… as beautiful as all those sights are, I’ve learned that my favourite thing to capture is community. Whether it’s families, or couples, or groups of friends; they are what gives context to the backdrop. Human nature is another dimension of nature, and I love to see them intertwined.

I hope this series has sparked a little exploration in you, because there’s plenty of beauty to see for those with eyes that are willing to see it.

Time has crept along anonymously for the last six weeks, with no events or special occasions to break up our calendars. I can only hope that our festive season offers something different and that communities are brought together again.

My final stop for this lockdown project of mine has been Fitzgerald Park. Here’s what I’ve seen…

Location: Fitzgerald Park

Day: 31 - 40 of lockdown

Directions: This park is a short distance from the city centre and stretches along a portion of the Mardyke Walk.

The Fountain

The Father Mathew Memorial Fountain is about 120 years old. It’s one of the only surviving structures that date back to the Cork International Exhibition of 1902. The exhibition was held on 8 hectares of reclaimed land — that land became Fitzgerald Park.

The Dawn Redwood.
The Dawn Redwood.

The Dawn Redwood

This species of tree is a special addition to Fitzgerald Park. One of three dawn redwoods on the grounds, this particular specimen stands alone in the middle of a green. The green being littered by yellow in this case. The dawn redwood is native to China, so its oriental charm stands out and looks peculiar amongst the more commonly seen trees of the park.

Its trunk looks like it’s been gripped by a giant pair of hands and twisted into wooden yarn.

The Still Pond
The Still Pond

The Still Pond

A tranquil area for anyone to sit and relax. There are nooks and crannies perfect for taking time out to yourself in the surrounding gardens.

Birds On Display
Birds On Display

Birds On Display

Father and daughter scatter bread pieces for the frantic procession of birds in wait.

The Giant Pine.
The Giant Pine.

The Giant Pine

This is the largest tree in the park.

It’s hard to know the exact age of the pine, but this could plausibly be 100 years old and over 100 feet tall. The king of the park.

Witches Brooms.
Witches Brooms.

Witch’s Brooms

Trees are immobile organisms. Therefore, they have to be able to adapt to their environment, whatever conditions they’re dealt with. Here are some young maple acers who have spent their lives in the shadow of the giant pine.

As the sun passes across its southerly, daily voyage, these trees stretch as best they can, trying to absorb whatever rays of sun filter through the gaps of the pine.

After many years of leaning and stretching, they look to me like enormous witch’s brooms that have been holstered in the ground.

Wild Art.
Wild Art.

Wild Art

The mirrored tree is the rarest species of them all.

To catch up on Richard’s full series see EchoLive.ie

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