I wrote recently about how moved I was by an article in the Guardian, in which journalist Kiran Sidhu wrote about Welsh farmer, Wilf Davies.
The landscape in the article seemed familiar. I’m fairly sure that we all live close to the Tywi river, and possibly Kiran and I know people in common. It’s not unlikely that we’ve walked past each other in the streets of Carmarthen without knowing it.
Anyway, Kiran followed up with another article, How my farmer friend Wilf gave me a new perspective. It’s more about Kiran herself, but it struck a chord. She writes:
Just over a year ago, I left my London life for rural Wales. I saw it as not a desirable but a necessary pause in what had become a turbulent life. The previous six years had been full of turmoil, death, subsequent grief and estrangement.
That sounds so very familiar. I also arrived in west Wales a year ago, burned out after a decade of dealing with suffering, exhaustion, grief and bereavement. It occurs to me that I really need to write about how Bardism (Welsh Druidry) approaches suffering.
Like Kiran, I have found solace and healing in the slow rhythms of rural life, where the red kites wheel overhead and dog-walkers stop to chat to strangers; where continuity with the past lives alongside a fizzing creativity, and all on a very human scale.
She writes that her “younger self would never have understood Wilf”. I know the feeling. As I wrote once, I grew up with people like Wilf as part of my community; some were relatives. I couldn’t understand their stillness and silence; now, older and wiser, I get it.
Iolo Morganwg was no stranger to city life: he spent years in London, after all, mixing with the literary and political elite. He also knew the farm, and the powers of herbs. He knew suffering, and he knew hope and healing, and all of this became a part of the system that he handed down to us. It still has so much to offer.
As for Wilf, it seems that Kiran is making a documentary about him. Perhaps he will become famous, in the manner of Hannah Hauxwell. That would be something. In the times that are coming, times of economic and social hardship, Wilf’s example of quiet contentment will be something of great value and inspiration.