I struggled to write last weekend’s post. I manage a team of NHS Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Therapy Assistants. On Friday evening I had been given the instruction that we would start redeploying staff to adult services on Monday morning.
I knew that the team were already frazzled after a frantic week of reorganising our service so that we can continue to meet the needs of our service users. I didn’t want to plunge them into uncertainty and doubt on Friday evening, when their questions may not have a readily available answer. The conversation would wait until Monday.
Last weekend felt quite lonely. There was a fair bit of introspection. I hovered over things, but didn’t get stuck in. I flitted from one thing to another.
I noticed the pear tree was about to burst into blossom.
I love pear blossom. I love all blossom. That something so delicate, so fragile, so vulnerable, can emerge just when the world is at its most unpredictable. The blossom might open to warm sunshine, but if the sun dips behind a cloud, the blossom is left shivering and cold. There might be sun, but there might be rain, hail, buffeting wind.
The blossom comforted me. It is the same this year as every other year. April brings blossom.
The tight little balled buds are just starting to relax. To inhale and exhale, seeing how this world feels. Uncoiling their little petals just a little bit, relaxing into it, breathing in and out.
One or two brave little blossoms have softened and opened enough to reveal their pink stamens, and their central stigma. They peep out of the protective petals. They are just assessing the situation. Wondering if it is safe to come out.
By Monday I was ready for action.
My team were also ready for action. They blew me away. Each and every person has a reason to be afraid: a vulnerable family member, children, partner, elderly parents. Every person worries that their skills may not be up to the task.
And yet, we are adaptable. We can do this.
This week, each and every person drew on their past experiences, their wider skills. They volunteered their services willingly, despite their fear.
Just like the blossom. One by one, despite it being chilly, despite the situation being uncertain, these little buds are breathing themselves open.
It is easier together. We might all be doing slightly different things, but we are in this together. When one of us has a wobble, the others are here.
Here are some pear blossom flowers, just opened. The pink stamens are tender, huddled up, not quite knowing what to do with themselves.
Within a few hours, they have settled into their space. Their stamens separate out and become firmer. The flower has strength and structure. It can take its own weight, and that of others. They can reach out and know that they are not alone.
The flowers give their pollen to the bees. They are visited by honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees, busy bees. There might be the odd wasp. There might be a butterfly.
The blossom greets and treats them equally. The pollen and the nectar is there to be shared.
The petals are wide open now. As the pollen is rubbed away from the stamens, they are revealed to be steely black.
The stigma stands proud at the centre of the flower. It is prepared and ready to receive the pollen from the bees. There is cooperation and openness, to serve the community.
Over the next couple of weeks, the blossom will be brilliant. It will shine and sparkle and shiver. It will open with the sun, shrink back with the rain.
The pear blossom will be joined by the apple blossom, the damson, the greengage, the cherry. They will sing out to one another from across the garden.
In hedgerows up and down the country, you will see the end of the blackthorn blossom and the start of the wild cherry and wild damson blossom. Soon there will be hawthorn and elderflower. One blossom overlaps with the next, handing over the baton. In gardens across the UK there will be flowering cherry of wildest pink. It will make your heart sing.
They all have the same design; they are made of the same stuff. The same five petals, perhaps touched with a little pink. The same fragility; the same steeliness. They all have a job to do. For just a short while, they will open their petals, expose their hearts and share their gifts. They will be rocked and buffeted. They will sing, weep, laugh, give, receive, learn.
Once the blossom has done its job, the petals will disperse. They will leave tiny embryo fruits at the base of each flower. They will be difficult to see at first. As the weeks pass, these fruits will swell. They will be touched by sun; they will feel its warmth. They will find each other, and touch and hug again. They will share their stories.
This post is dedicated to key-workers and their families. Not just the NHS, but teachers, social care workers, emergency services, pharmacists, supermarket staff, farmers and pickers, cleaners, transport workers, volunteers. Anyone who is getting out there, or supporting someone who is out there, putting the needs of the community ahead of their own personal fears. With support from one another, we can do this.
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