The theme this month was “Spring”, with plenty of reminders that a change of weather is upon us, and now is the time to get out and get active.
The hall was decorated in silky drapes of varying colours, with vases of flowers and brightness everywhere, enhanced by strong sunshine through the windows. Joe Trakalo hosted the event, dressed appropriately as a busy, busy bee – with a bright yellow shirt, black antennae and a little cushion tail.
We set the bright mood by singing “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles. Our hosting bee then explained how he found the climate in England much more amenable than the harsher conditions in his native Canada, which recently experienced severe blizzards and winter storms. He demonstrated how green the Oxford city environment is, by showing a portfolio of flora that he had captured on his phone camera in Slade Park, close to where he lives.
After some Spring-themed readings from our regulars Marion and David, we sang another song: “Weather With You” by Crowded House.
Then Joe introduced a talk entitled “Creating Bee Friendly spaces in Oxfordshire” by Jan McHarry, a representative of Friends of the Earth. With various examples and props, Jan explained the role that bees play in our local ecology and pointed out that they are under threat from increasing urbanisation and loss of pollinating flowers from our environment. She highlighted the new “Bee Friendly” symbol that is catching on amongst the horticultural community, and encouraged us to nurture more of these plants in our gardens. Indeed, she even provided us with seeds to take home and get started. She told us to keep an eye out for bee friendly flowers on our first SA walk round Port Meadow next Saturday.
Some very thoughtful readings followed, with a passage about Spring in Oxford from a book read by Stephen, and a lovely poem read by John. That set the scene for our 2-minute reflection. We then finished with a new activity – singing lessons. Jo de Waal, a local singing tutor, first warmed up our vocal chords with a call-and-response exercise. Then she demonstrated the vocal melody to Thomas Morley’s madrigal score for “A Lover and His Lass” from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and encouraged us to sing it back (with wonderful accompaniment on classical guitar from our band leader Oli). It’s a tough song with some high peaks and time signature changes, but by the third attempt we were making a reasonable fist of it. So we then tackled the whole song from the top – and we did it well. What a wonderful way to end an uplifting service!
We closed with some announcements of upcoming events – including the 5-mile SA walk next Saturday (10:30am outside Freuds in Jericho). Then we enjoyed some tea and home-made cake, with lots of friendly chat and banter, before adjourning as usual to the pub.
See you on Saturday morning!