Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters – Back and fore

Maybe it always happens when you go away from home. Even as you reach the place where you were headed, you’re paying attention to new things, features of your new environment that are different from what you experience at home.

One thing I’ve been much aware of this Spring in Mathri, the village where we have our Welsh home, is the multitude of cowslips in the verges and hedges of roads leading into and out of the village. OK, cowslips will never cease to be among my favourite countryside flowers. But each time I see them en masse at this time of the year, I feel excited and privileged all over again. I’m tempted to describe them as very modest creatures, they seem to blend themselves in to the hedgerows and fields. I feel grateful to be here at the right time to see them. The bluebells and garlic have a fine show too in the woodland ways close to the sea.

Another thing I’ve been much aware of since arriving here in Mathri this Spring is the birdsong. There’s what I want to describe as a flight of very tall trees in the churchyard at the top of the village. Walking past them in the early evening a day or two ago, there issued from them such a chorus of sound that it felt like the birds had decided to give the village a special concert.

Yet another thing I notice here in Mathri – and it’s a human thing this time – is the feeling of acceptance. Paul and I come here as often as we can. But local people could well feel that since we’re not here all of the time, we can’t be regarded as Mathri people. If they do feel that way, they certainly don’t show it. Maybe it’s a factor that at least I grew up in this North Pembrokeshire area, my first fourteen years of life just seven miles to the north-east, the rest of my growing up just seven miles to the south-west.

As human beings, we have to adapt. Yesterday, from somewhere out of the blue, back into my mind came the story of the three lovely sisters who were stolen into the sea by the King of the Oceans. They were very unhappy in his kingdom. All they wanted was to be back on land where they’d grown up. The King of the Oceans could see how sad and unhappy they were but hoped they would adapt. When they didn’t, he said he’d let them return to live on land, but only for half of the time. Half the time, they’d live on land. Half  the time, they’d live beneath the waves of the sea.

But then, if I’m remembering this story aright, it was when his edict came into action that the girls changed. They changed into seagulls, those plaintive-sounding birds who, in this story as in life, spend much of their lives moving between sea and land.

Having grown up by the sea myself, I can’t help feeling that, as for the seagulls, the sea is an essential part of my being. We return to London early next week. I’ll adjust. But I’ll also be looking forward to returning once more to this sea-girt county of my birth.

PS: Top photo, of course, is cowslips and the second  bluebells  Bottom picture is Paul striding towards the sea at Whitesands which is one of Pembrokeshire’s finest and widest beaches that I have known and loved since childhood.

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