VC Musings form Gavin
Very brief this week, similar to doing well at an urban sprint: short and sweet.
I was reading the National Trust handbook the other day – well it is lockdown after all – and came across the following words: “Everyone needs nature and recently, people everywhere have felt this need – hearing, seeing and sensing nature as though for the first time. It spells hope. Everyone needs that deep nourishment of green spaces and fresh air.”
For quite a lot of people this nourishment of nature they have been getting during lockdown, some for possibly the first time, made me realise how lucky us orienteers have been: For years we have been able to experience these beautiful, verdant, green spaces with far more intimacy that the ordinary person. I’m sure none of us take this access for granted. Lockdown has really brought home what a fortunate position we have been in, to be able to compete, some at speed, others of us not quite so speedy, through these magical places. I’m certain we will be getting back into these areas at some point. Hopefully in the not too distant future. But even if we don’t, just stop for a minute and appreciate how very very lucky we have been to have experienced nature in the way we do.
Chairman Musings from Jolyon
Gavin’s regular musings during these lockdown weeks have inspired me to add to his text:
I have lived in the Wessex area now for almost 20 years, and although it is not my home turf (Pennines), I have always considered it one of the most beautiful parts of lowland England. Particularly here in the heart of the Cranborne Chase AONB where the skies are dark, and nobody visits unless they have got lost trying to avoid the traffic on the A303. Getting back into orienteering six years ago transformed my weekends, trekking the length of the country with my young family to indulge (as Gavin alludes to) in wonderful terrain: sun-drenched sand dunes, private forests, military ranges, intricate rain-soaked Lakeland woodlands and labyrinthine backstreets, housing developments and urban parks.
It was truly exhausting, sometimes arriving back in the UK on Friday/Saturday, orienteering all weekend to be back on a plane late Sunday/early Monday. Then suddenly it stopped. The world has shrunk, our freedoms restricted, our friends only visible through web platforms.
However, in everything we search for positives. I barely drive anywhere (my carbon footprint is much smaller), and I have had time to be at home, enjoy my local woodlands, explore the endless network of paths, and the meanders of the river. I have watched barn owls hawking field margins on my runs at dusk, seen signs of otter and water vole on the river, delighted in moths, butterflies and all range of insects in the garden, and pounded through the woods to the sound of nuthatches, woodpeckers and owls. The girls certainly will remember the endless days at home or in the local countryside, generally going nowhere but just playing/running/cycling close to home, just as we did as kids. It has been a time for consolidation for many of us. A chance (as Gavin says) to appreciate the wonderful opportunities an orienteer has. With infection rates declining and vaccination rates increasing, I remain forever optimistic about the future of orienteering and that soon we will enjoy those pleasures again, perhaps (as Gavin concludes) with even more appreciation.