Today I climb over the stile and head up the hill towards the house, the sheep bleating as they lift themselves from their warm patches. I say ‘Good morning’ and, ‘sorry to disturb you’; I want to be on friendly terms with these denizens. I have apples for the horses.
I open the gate which creaks on its rusty hinges. A buzzard high above is being tackled by a crow, or is it a raven (I’ll have to find out). The sun is edging from the clouds, last night’s rain drips from the scaffolding that encases the building, and today, for the first time, I will not have the house to myself.
The workmen, the craftsmen, and the archaeologist are on site with their diggers and trowels and wheelbarrows. They are busy outside, unearthing, disrupting the ground in order to establish good drainage, in order to see what lies under all those decades of hill slip gathering at the skirt of this medieval house.
I sit, as always, on the wall, not quite outside the house (or inside either). From here I can see the hills, and sense the great big Oh of the door pulling me in; an invitation. How deep am I willing to go here in these two years of residency? What can I discover about myself being present, watching the walls and floors stripped back, reinforced? Listening. And in which language will poems come, if indeed they come at all?
There is already a blurring of inside/outside, the hidden and revealed: doors no longer fastened to their frames, windows unable to open, new born spiders gone from their carefully woven sacs. All these openings, gateways to stories of this place and its people wanting out.
While I explore downstairs, treading cautiously to avoid the gaping holes in the floorboards, I hear the bats upstairs. One flies through the rafters and after my initial shock, there’s delight in the way its wings fan the air around me; even in motion, these creatures are a gentle presence. In the hall is a fly unable to find its way out, the sound of its zuzzing amplified against the cold slab stones, counterpointed by my footsteps. At one point we are in unison, the fly and I. Outside, the song of the digger, lifting and dumping, tamping down, the spilling of shale into a hole, the scrape and pull of the trowel pointing between stones on the barn, raking out dead mortar, the easing in of fresh lime-paste.
The shadow of a swallow glides over wet mud, stroking, it seems, the newly exposed ground. I look up; I had not known they had red at their throats. It seems there are many empathic winged creatures at Llwyn Celyn. I learn I will learn by coming here open, ready to receive the gifts and the wounds this house and the hills have to offer. I will put my pen down (as often as I can) and be present with the house, the sheep, the machinery, and maybe more dauntingly, with myself.