Shed Stories #6 ‘I went to blow the fire aflame’

This year Easter, and the changing of the clocks to British summertime coincided, and to celebrate this arrival of spring, Mike and Seren and I cooked our supper over the fire in the garden and drank our first Pimms of the year!  It was not a balmy evening (bloomin’ cold!) and the Pimms was probably a bit premature but it was lovely to sit out by the fire and listen to the birds singing their evening chorus and the owls calling out to one another as they began their twilight forays.  It certainly felt like a beginning of better weather and times outdoors to come.

We are lucky to have space for our beautiful fire pit in the garden as there is something so incredibly special about sitting around the fire outdoors; it is both grounding and spiritually uplifting, and one always feels more connected to the cosmos after drifting off into a meditation watching the flames.

We used to do this more often when Mike ran his greenwood chair making workshops out in the woods as we would occasionally join in with the courses of an evening which always entailed sitting round the campfire.  In fact we first met on one of his ‘development weeks’ 31 years ago in a wood outside Bristol.  We did not get off on a great footing as far as any sense of a relationship but I was intrigued enough to go back again later in the summer and try my hand at pole-lathe turning and green woodworking.  I then went back to help out on some courses in the September and the rest, as they say, is history! 

Our new life together began in earnest in March 1994 when we bought a woodland together with a group of other like-minded people in Herefordshire. Thus our lives continued together with woods, woodland living and campfire cooking becoming a major part of our every day lives.  

We named the wood, Clissett Wood, after a Victorian chair maker, Philip Clissett who had lived in a cottage adjoining the woodland and who was the main reason we were originally visiting the area just outside the market town of Ledbury.  Although it was agreed amongst the group that the woodland would be a space for teaching and for practicing good woodland management, living there was never on the agenda.  However, we did move to the area and have been happy in Herefordshire ever since.

Back in the present day and this March has not seen any major upheavals.  The main excitement was the broadcasting of the BBC Radio 4 ‘Ramblings’ programme which sounded great and had been beautifully recorded and edited.  We were all delighted, and if you haven’t yet heard it you can find it here.

This coincided with a new pledge level on the Unbound ‘Wild Folk’ page for an exclusive publication of a limited edition chapter book of ‘Wayland’ one of the seven stories that will be in the full book to be published in 2025.

Link – folk&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter

I am also over the moon to report that my submission piece for the British Glass Biennale exhibition was selected.  The exhibition will take place in Stourbridge in August and I shall update you with information nearer the time. Here is a photo of the piece with the blurb that accompanied it and the poem by W. B Yeats that it is named for.

‘The Mari Lwyd is a complex presence in Welsh folklore. My personal sense of her is as a benign midwife of death. As a horse may carry us in life and may be powerful yet gentle, intuitive and loyal, so she carries the beloved up into the firmament in a final procession of great glory and love. Aided by swan maidens and suffused with love, every individual, however meek, unknown, unloved in life, is raised up to the stars as their being becomes at one with the universe. The title is taken from the W.B. Yeats poem.’

Aedh Wishes For The Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

One of the stories in ‘Wild Folk’ that I have been illuminating over the past month is also inspired by a William Butler Yeats poem, ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’, though both Jackie and I came to this poem via the song version sung by the Irish singer, Christy Moore.  If you haven’t heard it do check it out because it is sublimely beautiful and will make you cry!

In the story, ‘River’, Jackie has taken the bones of Yeats’ poem and spun them into something fuller and even more heart achingly moving.  I am simply enchanted by hers and Yeats’ words and can hardly bring myself to leave this chapter but I must, as all must be finished by the end of April!

The Song of Wandering Aengus – W. B. Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And someone called me by my name:

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done,

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.