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– The toy workshop

October 31, 2012

Inspirational reading this month comes from The Elves and Fairies Book,  Golden Pleasure books, 1962.  An odd choice certainly but somehow that, and a volume by Sherri S Tepper called The Family Tree, have been making me feel strangely connected to all sorts of natural spirits.  Maybe it’s the books or maybe it’s the weather but here we are, clouds lapping white and silent outside our windows, rain pouring down like so many pine needles, of which there really are plenty too after a windy night, our feet on the track, silently padding over the carpet they make.  In this heavy rain and greyness we work at our crafts by the light of candles since there hasn’t been any sun to light up our solar panels.  However much we might plan to do this or that on any given day our activity is finally governed by what nature allows.  Today it’s too wet to be outside getting on with our autumn programme of planting out young trees and too grey to fire-up the computer.  Thankfully there’s always knitting!

In Elves and Fairies, which is a lovely collection of traditional tales drawn together from different countries, including Sweden, a colder place than Spain definitely where they know how to survive a winter.  One of the stories, Singeli’s Silver Slippers by Martha Ines Johnson, shows Singeli, the shoemakers daughter sewing away by candlelight, elves peeping through the windows behind her, just as I can imagine them peeping through ours on dark moonless nights.  Our crafts at this time of year make us imagine Santa’s elves and I feel as if we are actually in that workshop, making our Monkey and Sofia toys.  Sewing little felt shoes and miniature clothes, embroidering fabric elephants, knitting cats, mice and kittens as well as woolly socks for every size of feet.  All of these things will carry our celebration of simple living out into the world, just as Father Christmas takes his helpers handiwork out with reindeer and sleigh.  Certainly we are lucky not to have to rely on that ancient magic, just the modern version, the internet, but it is exciting to know that Monkey and Sofia toys have, and will be, travelling so far.

Sitting here on the sofa, in front of the glowing stove, deep in Sherri S Tepper or Elves and Fairies it’s kind of nice to realise that books such as these have been central to my life for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in London with nothing of those magical worlds around me, they still felt strangely real, not just real in that they existed somewhere at some other time, but that those stories were about someone else’s real life and how it was meant to be lived.

Being here, even in the daylight of silent grey cloud, I feel lucky to have realised, thanks to those old stories, that this was the sort of life I wanted. And since we made the long journey from city dwelling to arriving here on our bit of hill it feels right to me to share what it feels like to be here.  Just as those fairies stories showed me a different sort of living to me I hope that this blog, where I jot all my thoughts about the strangeness and wonderfulness of life here, might, just maybe, nurture that ‘running back to nature’ candle in anyone that happens to read it.

It is always amazing and wonderful to hear from others on their journey, so thank you to those many that have been in touch, I am always pleased that my jumbled thoughts actually meet people who understand them!  Plus, thank you to the other many that have happily invited some of our knitted creatures into their lives.  They might only be knitted creatures but they seem to bring something of the magic of life here on the hill with them.  So since we are approaching the festive season, why not celebrate nature and remote living and spread the word amongst all your family and friends.  Simple living rules!

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