As the summer slides gloriously into autumn, we were spoiled this weekend with sunshine and a rise in temperature. Sitting on the freshly mowed lawn drinking tea and watching the clouds this morning, I reflected on what a strange summer it’s been. I remember in the early days of the pandemic how much time I spent tidying, digging, planting and creating our summer hang-out. It’s been fantastic to have such a tranquil space! On stressful work days I was able to take a break in the little oasis I had created and it’s also proved to be a great place for entertaining ‘safely.’ Only the second summer in this garden, my hard work and patience has rewarded me with blooms, bees and shady spots for lazy book reading afternoons.

The newest addition to the ‘blooms’ are the majestic sunflowers that I planted against the fence. You might remember I bought the seeds from fellow creative Fiona of Minifi, who harvested them from her own flowers from summers past. When I planted them back in June, a selection of spindly seedlings, I had no idea how tall and robust they would grow. They have survived strong winds and torrential rains, even a couple of storms. I watered them and staked them and watched them flourish, and as their yellow petals began to emerge I was cheered by the certainty that one day soon their sunshine faces would be dancing along the fence in a blaze of gold.

If you plant a seed then there’s a good chance it will grow. A few years ago I had the idea of starting up Bee Creative Community Workshops and it started small, but it also grew. Not only did we expand in number, we also widened our creative scope and got involved in all kinds of community projects¬† – the community quilt project being the largest and one we are perhaps the most proud of. And just like those seedlings, some of the members of the group have become gained strength and confidence along the way. They have developed their skills, contributed to the group sessions and even led them themselves – it’s been so wonderful to see. People have come and gone but many have stayed and been a great support to others.

With the love and compassion that the group have shown each other, even the least confident individual has blossomed. Just like the smallest sunflower, seemingly overshadowed by the more established plants, they have all had their chance to shine. This is why it feels like the right time for me to take a step back. This year has been one of adaptation and change for many, and for big decisions to be made. For me, this means that I will be going back to work in a city school full-time and my role is pretty big one. Although I won’t be able to commit to regular Monday night sessions anymore, I won’t be disappearing altogether. I might be intending to take a back seat on the workshops, but I will still be driving community initiatives forward.

While we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic the online sessions will continue, led by Morag, and I will be talking to members of the group about how face-to-face sessions can take place again. This is not the end of an era, rather a brand new chapter, where the lead characters might change but are still part of the story.

And what an inspiring story it’s been so far…