The volunteer work party on 2nd February 2020 was different from any session that I have been involved in since I started writing The Water Meadow Chronicles, part way through last year. While we planted wildflower seeds some months ago on the River Lark west bank in No Man’s Meadow, there was nothing to see and no immediate visual impact. This session we were planting snowdrops and the transition was from nondescript to terrific and uplifting.
A record number of volunteers participated. We really deserved sunshine, but we had to make do with mild and overcast. At least there was no rain. The twenty or so attendees set to the task with a will and in no time, a carpet of nodding white flowers had been planted along the river side at the entrance to Ram Meadow. Spirits were high and, rightly, we were pleased with ourselves. It is said that getting out in the fresh air and enjoying some exercise contributes to hygge (or a sense of meaningfulness and wellbeing) and this session was a wonderful example of this. There were plenty of smiles and a clear collective sense of achievement. We had created our own sunshine!
We were joined by Ian Campbell who leads the “in-river” volunteer group. That’s the volunteers who have been trained in river safety and can get into the river with fetching garments on called chest waders, for jobs such as restoration, litter picking and Himalayan balsam removal. He was cutting back a willow that had fallen and obscured the entrance, which now had lovely snowdrops along it’s way. When the team had cut back some of the low branches and cleared some of the dead grasses and brambles, the view along the path was very much improved since one could see the sea of snowdrops from quite a distance.
This session was, according to Ian Campbell, “a wonderful example of what an active volunteer group can achieve by being collaborative, creative and flexible”. I couldn’t put it any better myself.