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This afternoon a 4th-year (senior) came by with a giant box of biscuits. She said people had been feeling down this week (for university reasons that don’t affect me at present), and she thought biscuits would help cheer everyone up. It was the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a while.

Another example of community happened in Bolton Castle this weekend, when a friend realised on the way down that she had forgotten her small daughter’s wool dress, the one that was going to keep her from freezing as she ran around the castle with her young friends. Conveniently, we had stopped at a wholesale fabric shop on the way down and grabbed some lengths of wool, including a yard of heavy lavender for the tot in question. (We may or may not have also found several yards of wool in a gorgeous self-patterned bronze, and we may or may not have squealed like little girls when we realised there was just enough material, at £3 per yard, to make 14th-century Italian court dresses for her, me and her little daughter. But that’s another story.) And so Friday night found three of us by the fire, each stitching away from either end of a child’s dress meant for the morning. If got done, too.

I’ve never been one to get involved in neighbourhood activities or what have you in search of a sense of community. I’m wary of organisations and cheesed at committees, and when it comes to mental exercises and group projects, have always done better on my own than trying to process too many streams of input. But helping friends and being helped, when help is freely offered, seems to slide past the tiresome and formal questions of obligation. When people are already a community, the organising seems to take a back seat to the doing, and that’s a kind of community I can live with easily.