As always, the drive across the A5 to Betws y Coed was breathtaking. As the title of my current favourite young adult novel states, ” The Sky …(was) Everywhere”. Leaves on the turn, a long, low, honey-gold light all warmed our souls as Alison drove and I chattered -a lot. Turning right to Penmachno, we were cwtched – more about a Cwtch later- between green hills, and it was hard to escape the feeling that in spite of a truly beautiful Indian Summer, 2015 is turning in on herself. Indeed, this morning’s mist outside my window was a Poe mist: the jackdaws were black shapes, in black trees in a grey mist.
Sarah’s workshop was a feast for the senses. Indeed it was a collision of colour, light,warmth, culture and language. Who knew that a Welsh Blanket could pull so many personal and cultural threads? As we wound our way up the lane from the Old School I re-trod and re plotted my South Walian Path.
The Old School, Penmachno had a layout similar to Ysgol Gymraeg Cwmbwrla, and the Chapel was a smaller replica of Babell where we held our religious services. So I was already half in and out of North Wales, half in and out of childhood, half in Penmachno and half in Swansea when I entered the Church.
The scent of warm wool was overpowering in the porch, more compelling than the historical account which I later read on the way out. The scent recalled my grandmother’s linen chest: filled with fifty and sixty year old blankets and sheets, and dried lavender which was so oldit had lost its fragrance.
Inside, the church was ablaze with colour and light. I had never seen such a warm light as as the red side window illuminated by the sun. The blankets were folded across chairs and pews turning back on themselves to show undersides as beautiful precise and geometric as the tops.
We were invited to write about Threads
There’s a thread I follow even when I sleep and
dance through my dreams,
drawing my life in their wake.
It snags so I fall or
fly only to continue the dance
snagging the starlight, tacking
moonbeams with longing
stitching the night sky in
Carthen in the Church
There is no right side or wrong side, no inside or outside, no positive or negative. What remains are regular blocks in the colours of love and language, time and culture .
Finally we were asked to write an ode to our blanket.
My blanket is a thread to
the past the spirit trail to my
ancestors who lulled me to
sleep with Calon-Lan.
Rough woollen threads recalled
rough work dried hands like towels
drying my days away along with
the quilts and vowels of
carthen to carry my infant self in a Welsh Shawl.
Thank you, Sarah, for facilitating time and space to allow these thoughts to emerge.