“The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future.”
Tim took a picture of this written in stone in Washington DC. He showed me the photo saying he liked the quote so photographed it. I like it too but I don’t know its origin beyond the stone in Washington DC.
It is a timely quote to fit my current train of thought. So I took the children on a seed gathering trip yesterday.
After helping my cousin move his earthly belongings to his new house we found ourselves in a sunshine bathed Bangor. I was warmed with many lovely memories of three exciting years I lived there on the threshold of the life I now lead. I was also reminded of the motivating topics that drove the company I kept and I tasted again the flavour of a passion for a nation, a people and culture that is very distinct.
I showed the children the house Daddy lived in when I first met him and then took them to explore the Slate Museum in Llanberis. The first shoots of spring sunshine seemed to make everyone we met blossom with kindness. The gentleman doing the slate splitting demonstration was quite charmed by Miss Puddleduck and fascinated by the fact the children were home educated. He took it upon himself to be sure they had some gems of knowledge unique to the day and experience. He was very informative and so engaging. In fact, everyone working there made us feel as if nothing was too much trouble and that we were honoured guests. They conveyed a very real pride in the museum.
It is funny how just recently I have been remembering a childhood game my brother and I extensively played. We were the curators of “The Grim’s Ditch Railway”. This was an outdoor museum that we conjured in our imagination. It included a steam railway represented by our bikes and had indoor displays neatly labeled in our bedroom of I cannot remember what now, and I hate to think who we bored with our museum tours. We had maps and signs and lots of outlets for creativity. It was one of those games that fired us sufficiently to keep building on and playing again and again.
The game was initiated by my brother’s primary school residential trip to the Forest of Dean. The name “Grim’s Ditch” was taken from the name of a place we used to do one of my mother’s grab a map and find a long walk places; some ancient earth works on the way to Oxford. It was a good name for our museum though the real place was little like the place we created in our imagination.
In remembering all this, I have found myself reflecting on the way we understood that running such a museum involves an intrinsic delight and pride in the heritage that is displayed and is to be shared generously. This was very well communicated by all those representing a similar ethos at the Llanberis Slate Museum.
After the Slate Museum and a picnic lunch in the car we went to explore Dolbadarn Castle. The children have never been there before and the uniqueness of the place immediately had them entranced. It is the place fairy, folk and romantic tales are born in with moss covered trees and rocks and the clear, crystal river that runs to the lake. Beneath the recycled rails and slate bridge is a very deep and inviting pool. It brought to my mind, for some reason, the mountain rivers of Nyanga, in Zimbabwe.
But to others the pool seems to be asking to have money thrown in it. There are lots of pennies and pound coins thrown beneath the bridge. This is an act I cannot fathom and never have understood why people throw useful money to such pointless purpose. I could not give the children an answer when they asked me why either and so they took that as a good enough reason to start fishing the money out. Son No. 2 reckoned it was like the pool in C.S.Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that turned whatever was dipped in it to gold.
Climbing the hill to the castle, we met a gentleman and his son. The lead in his hand indicated that there was a dog somewhere on the landscape. I had the surreal premonition that the dog was going to be a deer hound and sure enough around the corner came a great grey deer hound, beautifully fitting to the landscape – a perfect Gelert with beautiful eyes and a gentle manner.
It was such a beautiful day. The remains of snow on the mountains evicted the query from my big girl as to what it was? I could not resist the urge to say “cake icing”, as thick patches sat on the mountain tops like bits of icing left on the plate when the cake has been eaten. But the remnants could be felt in the chill of the air.
I told the children that I wanted them to each write a story when we got home, based on something about the place that inspired them. I was unimpressed that two of them have written stories that contain significant roles played by the latrines. They discovered that they could climb up the latrines and get inside an area of the castle that was out of bounds to bigger individuals. This inspired their imagination!
For our journey home we took the long road through the mountains and relished the views. But by the time we got home my big girl was feeling cooped up so asked if she could run home down the track. I let her out and the boys wound down their windows to shout encouragement to her as she ran ahead of the car. She started flagging on the last hill and one of the boys shouted, “Come on! Give it beef!” And the other one shouted, “Not horsemeat!”.
He has his father’s humour!
I had returned home with some stories written in 1936 that I read in a day and a night. They have been a fascinating read. It’s set me on a new quest to read Welsh literature from the early 20th Century that has been translated into English. It helps rekindle my passion, understanding and appreciation for a nation, a people and culture that is very distinct…just in time celebrate St David’s day!