Wednesday, 18 November 2009
The weak light from a tallow candle, guttering in the draught of a cracked window, spread a tiny puddle of amber across the wet lane as Christmas Parry marched past little Llettygariad, intent on his own warm fireside, this cold November afternoon.
A warm orange glow from the open hearth pooled across the slate slabs as Ann Jones cut slivers of bacon from a cooked pig's head, just a wee one, for her neighbour Ann's runt of the litter had finally been overlain a few weeks into its short life, the competition for a spare teat having weakened it. Waste not, want not, the odds and ends of a suckling pig was not to be sneezed at and it was making a tasty broth.
Outside, the wind was getting up again and the day's heavy rain was thundering past in the river, carving scallops into the rocky platforms beneath the surface, the dull clunk of a passing stone strangely loud above the tear of the water heading seawards. White horses tossed their heads and reared and bucked as they crossed the massive outcrops of subterranean rock, catching their manes in the trailing fingers of the beech twigs. Whirlpools formed in scoops of the riverbank, circling madly before being sucked into the maelstrom of water, punctuated by the winking of bobbing deadwood, dragged from its resting place by the rising flood. The weight of water plucking at the bank sent reverberations which Ann felt as she worked, but it was no worse than it ever had been in spate and only once in living memory had the flood sent her from her home and across the road to her neighbour's cottage, for fear they would be overcome in their beds.
A tendril of ivy beat time on the darkening glass; a mouldered piece of sacking stuffed in a rotted windowframe flapped like a dying moth; there was a sudden flare of light in the hearth as a stick collapsed beneath the cooking pot. A footstep along the lane drew Ann's attention to the window: I caught her eye for a second, sensed her weariness and then the veil of time drew, shroud-like, between us and Llettygariad became the ruin I know from many a journey past: the tumble of the rubble walls sinking into the tangle of nettle and bramble and the glossy leaves of laurel flapping in the wind, roots in the room where once a hand rocked a cradle and prepared a simple meal.
Will both take you to posts with other mention of Llettygariad in, on my original Codlins and Cream blog.