It’s spring, but not as we know it

Today is the spring equinox here in UK.  At last the long nights are over, the days will be longer than the nights from now on.  I am certainly stirring much earlier to the sound of the birds in the garden.

I love the equinoxes, and the solstices for that matter, I like these moments where we acknowledge the effects of the sun and nature on our lives.  Especially for this city dweller, whose exposure to nature is more limited.

The start of spring is a time of hope for me most years and today will not be different.  Without hope, this period of distance from others will be hard.  So my focus this morning is on all the good things.

We’ve been without physical Scouting for all of three days in the UK and yet there is virtual scouting happening already and I know many volunteers are putting plans in place to meet up online next week.  Work is moving apace to create activities young people can do at home, but still part of a group.  So much creativity and determination to keep communities together.

Choirs seem to be determined to keep going.  Gareth Malone is creating a virtual choir, a friend has invited me to Sofa Singers and my husband’s physical choir is working on how to move their weekly rehearsal online. 

I have long used Yoga With Adriene at home and now other teachers are moving that way, I have heard of a Tai Chi class being live streamed and have just signed up for a yoga nidra sound bath this weekend.

Online book groups are flourishing apparently and my own Facebook book group has spent the week discussing whatever we’re reading now and recommending books for the time we may have available for reading now.

My son recommended a programme for playing games together (not free), the RSC has made recordings of its productions available online.  There are museums you can visit virtually.  I am sure there will be so many other things we can do over the coming weeks.  For today as we start spring, the creativity and sense of community that is springing up is giving me lots of hope.

Book Groups

I have been a member of a book group for about 17 years now.  I love it, it is a collection of friends I have got to know purely through their reading.  Six of us have been the core of the group for many years, we meet once every half term, choosing whatever book takes the collective fancy.  We take on friends’ recommendations, book reviews, check out books we found in shops and chat about them until we all decide on one.  This way we also discuss books more widely and it leads to other recommendations apart from the ‘book group book’.

The only rule is that no one must have read the book before.  Some in the group read a lot and widely so that is sometimes a challenge, but we have read some amazing books over the years. We don’t all finish the books as sometimes life is too busy to waste on a book that you’re not enjoying, I have noticed that the most avid readers are the ones that are most comfortable with abandoning a book.  There is discussion to be had in why the book was abandoned, sometimes that has little to do with the book, and more to do with the rest of life, and that gets discussed too.  Over such a long time, there has been a lot of life and the group has been a safe space for me on many an occasion.

I like the discipline of a book group, and there have been times that those are the only books I read in a year. But most of all, I love the chance to discuss the book afterwards.  There is great pleasure to be had in reading a book and then going back through it and discussing it, it’s like reliving the whole experience and makes it come alive.  There is no pressure to have something clever to say, sometimes a lack of comment speaks volumes about the book.  It is always good to hear what others think though.

We have had the delightful experience of finding a book that we all loved and which we have made ‘ours’, I am convinced we are the six biggest fans of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Photo from Goodreads