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Diary: Elizabeth Figg

25 June 2021

ISTOCK

Let it grow

“NO Mow May” was such a delight for us that we are now enjoying “Let it Bloom June” — or, as we call it, “Just a Jungle June”. Lest you should not have heard of “No Mow May”, it was instigated by the conservation charity Plantlife (www.plantlife.org.uk). The idea is that you resist the urge to cut your grass, allowing any wild flowers lurking in the lawn to bloom and thereby providing food for pollinating insects.

This benign neglect has meant that, instead of a flat green lawn, we now have a meadow filled with colour and movement: the delicate blue of forget-me-nots highlights the vibrant yellow of buttercups and dandelions, while field poppies, cuckoo flowers, and ox-eye daisies dance amongst the waving grasses — food for our souls as well as a feast for the pollinators.

I suspect that our meadow will survive well into what Plantlife have named “Knee-high July”, not least as I am intrigued to know what other flowers may pop up when given a chance.

 

The language of love

FLOWERS featured in one of our sunset walks a few weeks ago. Summer House Hill, just above Leighton Hall, is a marvellous spot to watch the sun set. The dying rays light up the historic hall and the RSPB reserve behind it, and, in the distance, the sun seems to roll along the Lake District mountaintops before dropping behind them in a final blaze of molten glory.

On this particular evening, as we made our way to our favourite spot, we noticed a man having a solitary picnic a few hundred yards away. Polite waves exchanged, we settled down to enjoy the show, which was suitably breath-taking. Later, as we prepared to leave, the picnicking man appeared beside us and handed me a bunch of flowers, explaining that his partner could not be there, but that she would want someone to enjoy the flowers.

As quickly as he had appeared, he melted away into the summer gloaming, and I was left with a beautiful bouquet and a feeling that we had been inadvertent witnesses to a private ritual marking — what? Grief? Thanksgiving? Remembrance? We will never know.

 

Angel faces

OUR public rituals in church are slowly returning to something approaching normality, but, along with many churches, we have discovered the pastoral and evangelistic benefits of live-streaming, too.

Our Sunday routine at the moment is to hold a public act of worship in our church, which has no WiFi, and a live-streamed service from one of our churches with B4RN (Broadband 4 the Rural North), alternating the venue each week. So far, the live-streamed services have been filmed with the church closed, but we are exploring ways of filming with a congregation.

This is not as easy as one might think in our buildings, and, given the constraints of the architecture, we have concluded that public live-streaming may be possible in only one of them.

This leaves the problem of congregational privacy: not everyone is happy to be filmed; so we are experimenting with ways of avoiding this. It might seem a simple question of finding the right camera angle, but, given that we need a simple “point and shoot” set-up in which nobody needs to touch the camera during a service (the only practical solution, long-term), and the fact that the sanctuary in the otherwise more suitable church has windows on three sides, finding the right spot is proving tricky. Either the congregation remain unseen, but those in the sanctuary appear as angelic beings, moving like shadows through a dazzling white light; or the sanctuary is comfortably lit, but the faces of the congregation are visible as they come for communion.

A solution will be found, eventually; there was a suggestion that, given the popularity of The Masked Singer/Dancer TV programmes, we should just issue full face-masks and film “The Masked Congregant”. Well, it is an idea.

 

Noises off

WE RECENTLY had a small reminder of the difficulties that we all faced, streaming services in the early days of the pandemic, when a flat tyre meant that we had to stream our Sunday eucharist from our dining room again. We set up quickly, hiding the general chaos behind the camera, ironing a tablecloth, and matching candles that had burned down to just about the same level.

The service began smoothly enough, but then our dog, Zoe, who had been meandering around calmly, managed to find the squeak in a toy that had been squeak-free for more than a year. This surprised her even more than it did us, and, in her joy at this refound delight, she danced her way into the tripod, tilting the camera to give those watching a fine view of the ceiling.

We later found a packet of dog treats in our porch with an anonymous note thanking Zoe for her “infectious joy”. At last — something infectious that we can all celebrate!

 

Simple gifts

TYRE fixed, I had to make a brief dash to Scotland, a journey I often made with the boys when they were children. Sitting in the obligatory traffic jam, I realised that the family in the car next to me were playing “I-Spy”. In an age when technology is often used to “amuse” children, seeing such a simple, shared game still being enjoyed made me smile — as did the stretches of unmown verges, bursting with wild flowers.

Perhaps “Knee-high July” could be followed by “Up-to-my-Bust August”. Seems a blooming good idea to me.


Elizabeth Figg is an ex-QARANC officer, nurse, and midwife, now working as a free­lance writer. Her husband is a vicar in the diocese of Blackburn.

Forthcoming Events

25 September 2021
Festival of Faith and Literature: Food for the Journey
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