Sunday, 30 September 2018

September: free (and nearly free) stuff

A while ago I drove into the city, to a church that is old and beautiful and large, and took away one of their lecterns. They are closed now, closed for good, like so many other churches, large and small, across the city. Across the country, I suppose. They were giving away all sorts of things, polished with use and glowing with faith.
We did, with Kipper, go ablackberrying, across the fields at the back, and came back sticky and stuck with berries and brambles! We served them up that night to the same friends who gave us bag upon bag of apples from their garden.
 So, of course we made pie with our free apples and sprinkled over our free berries, and marvelled at this time of year, when even dedicated suburb-dwellers can smell the earth from which it all came forth.
Free pepper and chilli from the same, very horticultural, family. I am extremely grateful for the prowess and hard work of many, many kind folk around me!
One of whom brought me a bag of incredibly reduced lunch box rolls to prove that a trip past a certain food purveyor, at a certain time in the late afternoon, will produce a harvest of its own.
 And so the month would seem to be ending! So fast, so pumpkin-time surely? Over my last few years, autumn has been swamped by back-to-school issues and busyness, and maybe just bad weather sometimes means the colours and the smells and the beauty of it all do go diminished by stress and strain. So, I'm here beside our first fire of the season, thinking how beautiful it is to have friends and food and firewood from our storm-culled trees.

I'd like to talk too about free grace. That's the other thing that has poured over me this month with the orange glow of autumn. It's all by grace, isn't it? The waking, the working, the harvesting, the whole weird whoosh that is the diurnal turn. In my Year of the Tome (which I'd also like to tell you about some time) I've got to David and the relevant psalms as the narrative progresses. I can't at all grasp the scale of the Psalms! I want to hold on to all their words, but they are too many! Here are some from 86:"You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you."

And it's all (not nearly, but completely) free!

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Local: castle gardens and crochet.

I took my parents to Antrim Castle Gardens this afternoon. I'd been there on Sunday, and was hoping that all the vibrantly fabulous yarn-bombing would still be there- it was! The Whiter Shade of Pale roses were still heady with scent. The mood of the whole courtyard was still full of fun and tactile joy. Mum loved it.

The reason I'd been there on Sunday was because the facilitator of my crochet group had long ago suggested to our local council that Northern Ireland could really be doing with its own yarn festival. Thinking Yarndale and Woolfest. And lo, it was so! Spinning Yarns- spinning the wool and yarning it!

This is apparently Paula McIntyre, our local celebrity chef... More well known to me were lots and lots of local women who are wonderful craft gurus. In one of the marquees were free craft sessions. Sheep badges, rag rugs, woven pictures, all being made and smiled over and lovingly carried away for two solid days last weekend.

Now, I must confess that all this alone may not have taken me to the castle for a whole Sunday afternoon. I was there, with all my other crochet chums, in our specially made by Chloe t-shirts, to display what we feel is a perfectly stunning piece of folk art! The council had asked us to make the borough in crochet. We did our best! If you know the area at all you'll maybe spot some local attractions- Lorna, a spinner at the festival, is also a National Trust tour guide at Patterson's Spade Mill and I had the onerous task of representing that in crochet, if you can find it....

Finally, spot too the quite amazing Sammy who made it all happen in very, very practical ways. MK- here's a big dose of Northern Ireland accent just for you x