I was really encouraged by this little tree this week.

Despite the layers of hardcore, macadam and asphalt that stretch out around it, somehow it forced its way through a tiny crack and stands proudly – a burst of green in a sea of grey. It doesn’t care that it’s not supposed to grow there, it’s not a woodland or a garden or even a patch of overgrown wasteland where it might blend in a little better. It’s just busy doing its own thing, regardless or rules and expectations.

I love how left to its own devices, nature always finds a way around things to make its mark, wildflower gardens that rampage around bursting borders full to the brim with butterflies and bees. I had the pleasure of spending this afternoon in one such garden, of fellow nature lover Linda. As we caught up over a cuppa in the afternoon sunshine, I watched as the pollinators went about their business without a care in the world other than their daily occupations. We could be quite envious of them at the moment, seemingly unaffected by the current pandemic and blissfully unaware that they may be in decline.

There was a special purpose for our meeting today in her restful garden, our intention to start piecing together the sixty hand stitched quilt squares. The whole collection looked pretty impressive, even piled up on the garden bench. We spent a while marvelling at the work that had gone into them, each one as individual as the next one. Of course some people definitely have their own style, and it was easy to spot Linda’s precise stitches and love of bold colours on quite a few of them. But what is really special is how many people managed to contribute in the end, some regulars to the Monday night sessions and some more distantly connected.

And this is what all sixty squares look like all together!

It was a bit of a challenge assembling them all, although there were more or less the same amount of kingfisher blue and old gold but distinctly less with a cream background, we did a fair bit of reshuffling until we were happy with the overall effect. I think the colour choices were spot on and loved seeing how the colours had influenced some of the designs. Started in September, shades of autumn are prevalent but also there are wistful beach scenes and elements of nature from every season.

Sitting in the warm sunshine, stitching together the first few squares felt like we were beginning something again. I felt energised. It was also great chatting to Linda while we sewed, as we hadn’t seen each other since March and had a LOT to catch up on. It also brought to mind all the previous sessions sitting around a table and having a good old stitch and natter session. Right from the start, I have felt this project would bring people together and it really did. I hope it will continue to do so in the future too! Since that last stitching session at Middle Street Resource Centre, just one week before lockdown, it felt very much like things had ground to a halt.

Although meeting online has been a great way to keep in touch with other members of the group, and kept the creative momentum going, we have mostly been working on our own projects. Nevertheless now we are over the initial shock of the new and have begun to adjust to our altered state, we can start making tentative steps forward again. The time for endless talking about what is happening to our world, and allowing ourselves to be distracted by mindless chatter, needs to come to an end. As humans we instinctively know what we need for our survival, so we must start to trust our own judgment and act. It might just be time for deeds not words.