On 7th and 17th March we listened to several readings on a theme of water whilst we stitched.

First up, please listen to the two wonderful poems by our stitcher Maggie Crompton. The first is called A year beside the river and she has put it together from twelve of many haikus she wrote during 2021. Haikus are the Japanese poetry form that require a poem of 17 syllables in three lines of five, seven and five, and traditionally conjure images of the natural world. Her second poem is a treat, ‘The Water of Life‘ summing up I think all the things we have been talking about in these stitching sessions. Maggie is a wonderful wordsmith and we are so grateful for her sharing these amazing poems.

Maggie Crompton’s ‘A year beside the river

Maggie also read a poem about snowdrops which Jill had brought in, having had it framed with a picture on the wall for years but not really noticing it.

Maggie Crompton reading the poem about snowdrops Jill brought in from her wall at home

On the Monday evening I demonstrated the phosphate and nitrate tests currently used by CPRE in their Citizen Science Project. I drew up some Lugg river water in a jug at the Priory Bridge next to the Community Centre where we are stitching.

Priory bridge in Leominster when Lugg levels were high
Phosphate and nitrate colour charts, which match my Mortimer’s Cross millsack embroideries quite by chance!
My CPRE volunteer buddy collecting a sample from the Humber Brook (old arches of Roman bridge just visible in background)
Cylinder to measure turbidity of water, taken as the height of a column of water at which the black and white disc at the bottom of the column is no longer visible.

I showed the detailled drawings by English social historian Dorothy Hartley (1893- 1985) in her book published in 1964 ‘Water in England‘ documenting the smallest details of water management in our country through the ages. Her drawings and observations notice everyday details through to larger management schemes.

Dorothy Hartley’s Diagram of a city’s water, as needed for a city’s industries, Water in England (1964, pp.88)

I read Dorothy Hartley’s passage called ‘The leading of water over the hills’ which tells of the water diverting skills of the agricultural hillside workers that they took with them in the Industrial revolution to hep drier lands.

Dorothy Hartley’s writing ‘Leading of water over the hills‘ p 166-168, Water in England, 1964

I re/introduced the work of Rachel Carson in her book Silent Spring, now sixty years old and her writing ‘A fable for tomorrow’.

Rachel Carson’s ground breaking book published originally in 1962
About Rachel Carson and a reading from her book Silent Spring (1962) – A fable for tomorrow.

I also read Rachel’s words about ‘Ground water’

Rachel Carson’s writing on Groundwater, from Silent Spring (1962)

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