Richmond Park is my favourite park to go for long strolls. It is spread over 2360 acres. A day or two will not suffice to explore it fully. But I decided to go and explore. I knew there were ‘Fallow Deer’ in the park. I boarded Bus 213 and alighted at Queen’s Court. And then I walked down to the entrance gate to Richmond Park which is about 500 M from the Bus Stop.
As you enter the main gate of Richmond Park, there is a café on the left. I determinedly avoided looking there. Coffee with a muffin would be good, but maybe on my return, I told myself. My path soon presented me with a choice. I took the left exit.
Instead of the path for men and women particularly those walking their dogs on the right exit, I preferred this road. It goes up the climb. And this tree drew my attention. I felt bad. An old tree among all the green trees. Dead but standing tall.
I walked further, and turned my attention to the road in the front. And suddenly I noticed that there were so many deer. (Oh my dear, the plural of deer is deer!) Fallow Deer. My poor mobile phones cannot zoom enough to capture a good photograph. And I do not have a DSLR.
Dejectedly, I walked ahead. And saw a lady in the blue going towards deer. So I thought. I followed her, but realized that deer was not on her agenda. So I backed off. I am scared to go alone in the woods. Fear of snakes. There are only three types of snakes in England, and only one among them, Adder, is poisonous, mildly poisonous.
And this big stump kept upright by a support. Why? We will never know. Looks like an old man leaning on his walking stick. Why does the sight of old stump of a big tree resonates with this old man? Forget it! Coming back to mildly poisonous Adder, I remember a scene in a Bollywood movie. Ajit (the Villain) asks Dharmendra for his match box to light a cigarette. Dharmendra hands it over but mentions that there is only one stick inside. “Aag lagaane ke liye bus ek hi kaafi hai’ says Ajit. For me one Adder will be enough to show the way to heaven. Yes, heaven (let us be optimistic)!
I walked ahead a bit, then decided to return. Many big trees I see along the way and I do not miss to note the patterns of their bark. Prof Battiwala (SIES College, Sion, Mumbai) asked my Botany class to observe bark of the trees while on study tour. Your words are not forgotten, Sir.
Here is a close look at one of the fallen trees. The old log is beautiful with clear rings. Yes, this too resonates with me! This log is looking at me, I feel.
And I suddenly noticed that a heard of ‘Fallow Deer’ had moved closer, though not close enough for the range of my mobile camera. Click, click! Must not miss the opportunity. A hundred clicks. At least a few will be good.
And more. They came closer. “A herd of deer is probably the most common way to designate them, but it is most assuredly the most boring. To be more deer-specific, the other ways to refer to a group of deer include a bevy, a rangale, a bunch, or a parcel. When using parcel, however, it’s generally going to refer to a group of only young deer.” (Internet search)
And closer …. Male fallow is called bucks, females does and the young fawns.
And suddenly as if their commander called ‘Ghum jao’, they all turned away! Amazing. Communicating without words.
On my way back, I saw a father and son duo happily strolling in the park. I envied them. I wish such parks were available to us to roam around in our childhood.
Stumps of old trees, Herd of Fallow Deer, Imaginary threat of Adder, Remembering the Professor, Communicating without words, Roaming around in the park. Everything resonates in the PhotoWalk. That is this old man’s journey in the park. And also, inside his mind. After all, the only journey is the one within.
(All photographs copyrighted)
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”