Inspiration, I have often found, comes from unexpected quarters.
This morning, wandering around beautiful Pulborough Brooks with four other intrepid members of our Bird
Watching Group, we happened upon a wildlife area. Here, there and everywhere were heaps of upended flower pots, wooden planks, black plastic bags filled with water and stones - you will find much the same in my back garden at this time of the year. Except
that here's the difference: at the nature reserve, each pile of garden rubbish was labelled as a haven for creepy crawly things. Carefully written on small blackboards were the explanations for each edifice. A safe hiding-place for slithering snakes, a bolt-hole
for beetles, a B&B for wintering bees. The latter was my absolute favourite, including, as it did, Trip Advisor type reviews on the facilities. "Great location!" read one five star verdict. You probably had to bee there.
I will now view my garden through fresh eyes, every unkempt corner being a safe harbour for insects, bugs and slithery things. A few strategically placed notices and I needn't worry any more about tidying up until Springtime. I will be a One Person
When I say we were an intrepid band, that's because today started out rainy and miserable. The Lovely Linda, our Leader, telephoned me to ask if I would be going bird watching today. "Oh, yes!"
I responded, confidently. It was not, Linda pointed out, the best of days. Dear reader, I have to admit that though I had been up at least, well, half an hour when Our Leader rang, I hadn't actually looked out of the window. I must have pulled the curtains
with my eyes shut. After replacing the phone, I took a look. It was, indeed, not the best of days. Every passer-by was bundled up in water-proofs or being carried away by an umbrella. The rain fell incessantly.
the weather forecast on TV, I was encouraged to learn that we could expect an improvement as the morning progressed. And so it proved - the rain had stopped by the time we gathered in the car park outside the Visitor Centre; an hour into our pleasant amble,
a weak but welcome sun struggled through the clouds. Our faith was rewarded.
Our new member Heather proved to be exceptionally knowledgeable about birds. This was a Very Good Thing as far as I was concerned
because I do like to go back to Mr B at the end of the morning with a list of Birds We Have Seen. Even if I didn't actually see them for myself, I was there. Unfortunately, Mr B has made it clear that he will only be impressed should I see a Golden Eagle.
I'll get Heather onto that straightaway.
Our new Rector possibly felt he had benefited from Divine Inspiration when he addressed a motley gathering of littl'uns (average age five years) at yesterday morning's
Family Service. Each child was given a letter to hold, spelling out ADVENT, each letter in turn the initial letter of a Christmas-related word. "What season is it? It begins with A..." My friend Sue and I conferred. Surely it's not still Autumn, it must be
Winter now? we thought. How wrong can you be - the answer was Advent. We should have guessed that. Puzzled looks from the Tiny Ones. The second word began with the letter D. Oh, what else but "decree". Blank faces among the small fry. Sue and I developed an
unfortunate bout of the giggles. As children's quizzes go, this was the equivalent of Mastermind.
The third letter was V for Virgin. Fortunately none of the little ones was confident enough to ask for a definition.
E was the fourth letter, it stood for Emmanuel. I was ecstatic because I'd guessed correctly. I was almost pumping the air in triumph. I am, of course, somewhat older than five years old. N was for Noël. Sue was there before me. Neither of us guessed
that T was for Tell. It was left to the Sunday School Leader to shout out the answer. I rather suspect she had Inside Knowledge.
There are easier ways of telling a Christmas Story. I remember some years ago
attending a Christmas morning service with grand-daughters Katie and Eleanor. The Vicar told the age-old story of the Nativity with the help of, guess what, appropriately named chocolate bars. Alone among the youngsters, Eleanor knew all the answers as she
had heard the seasonal quiz at at a school assembly a week before. By the end, she had amassed a whole stash of chocolate. Being Eleanor, sweet child that she has always been, she then, unbidden, went round all the pews handing out chocolate bars to every
previously disappointed youngster.
That wasn't inspiration. Like the B&B for Bees, it was Doing What Comes Naturally.