The jewels at our feet
The restrictions since mid March have been an eye opener into another world for so many of us. Like others I have found myself working from home and spending more time than normal indulging in walks in my local area with a new sense of curiosity. Whereas once, as a family, we might have hopped in the car and visited a local woodland, mountain, beach or park, we were now faced with the challenge of finding the same amusement from an outing in our local 2km.
A pleasant surprise
Living in suburbia, on the edge of a town on the east coast of county Wicklow I quickly tallied up the options and was pleasantly surprised to discover that they were many and varied. Among the wonders rediscovered in my 2 km radius were agricultural fields and lush scented hedgerows, roadside verges bursting with wildflowers, bubbling streams, a small woodland, a pond with tadpoles and countless other fascinating creatures, and of course the rocky coastline (minus the sandy beach). Intermingled with this are the stone walls and historic ruins spattered with yellow and white lichens and harbouring tiny micro gardens, and, finally, the time to stop and read the plaques attached to local landmarks and monuments. Each recounts past people and momentous events spanning many hundreds of years, surely a reminder that the strange times we are living in now will also pass and become history before too long.
Is it this spectacular every year?
Observing the changes in nature, the transitioning from spring to summer before our very eyes has provided endless wonders in recent weeks. Is it this spectacular every year? Family walks now include a constant ear open for birdsong, buzzing and rustlings, and eyes attuned to changes in our well trodden paths. I now find myself obsessively carrying my mobile phone on every excursion, not for communication purposes but in order to photograph plants, butterflies and bees along the way for later identification and for uploading to the Biodiversity Ireland app. There is something thrilling and addictive in learning a new species, in putting a name to a familiar face or indeed discovering a new one. Now more than ever, we are spoiled for truly excellent online resources freely available at our fingertips to help us identify and share the jewels of nature that have been lying at our feet all this time. www.biodiversityireland.ie and the invaluable www.wildflowersofireland.net are consulted on a daily basis.
For me this has been a time of rediscovery, a big reminder that heritage is everywhere , all the time, we just need to slow down and look.