‘I used to do the bins around here,’ I said to my 11 year old daughter as we made a steady approach towards the serpentine village of Pen-y-Bont-Fawr; a passing on our way to St Melangell’s Church. My daughter took in the village and looked at me.
‘So you’ve got nostalgia for this place?’ she asked. I gave consideration to it.
‘Perhaps,’ I answered, leaving myself the possibility that I didn’t. We let it be and turned off the thoroughfare and onto a thin space of single track back lane; down then, into Melangell’s valley.
‘I have constant nostalgia for this place,’ my daughter said, and were it possible, one could almost have seen the threads of her Saints’ name, their lives and the story of the church pull together in sympathy, all blessed with deep sunlight and a background of idle breeze. No wonder she had an already nostalgia for it. Greens beyond pastoral, assorted filagrees of summer colour, each to their own and all calling out with creation.
Gently we wound our way, me driving and her standing up out of the open sunroof, until we closed in on the familiar church roof and entered back into olde time. Regardless of odd signifiers, like a couple of modern buildings with UPVC windows and some diggers tearing up tree roots over yonder, St Melangell’s church and its immediate surrounding still glow with the way back then, when the lore of this valley was being laid down by being lived in and lived through. Local word today says that the greatly matured Yew trees, which still dapple the churchyard, had already lashed their roots down when Christ himself was on the march way over yonder. Why not, it wouldn’t be the most mysterious thing about the place. We made tracks for the door and her shade.
The Melangells spent some time together inside the church, before the younger and still fleshy of the two went about some church tidying and general setting of good order. I couldn’t see what the original was up to. Probably lots, her imprints being still vital about the seams of this space. A most endearing presence that pulls on those quiet inner threads and feeds outer references like your favourite lore chapter of a Tolkien, or high summer in Moomin Valley; the whole churchyard close under heat and quiet within the bowl of her arching hillsides.
‘I need to be buried here,’ my daughter said when we were back out amongst the gravestones and assorted root bulges.
‘Yes I can see that,’ I told her. ‘I do think you fit in around here. You better make sure you ask her very nicely.’