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Making a new winter tradition

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By Fiona Reid
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Making a new winter tradition

A WINTER Icelandic tradition is coming to Dumfries and Galloway.

Kvöldvaka was born of winter nights on farms when the days were short, work still needed to be done indoors, there was limited oil for the lamp, and yet there was a thirst for literature and imaginative transportation. People would gather in a single warm room, and someone would read aloud as they knitted, darned and mended items of clothing.

And now that is to be replicated here, with weekly readings of ‘The Raven’s Nest’ at the CatStrand in the Glenkens every Tuesday at 7 pm until December 13.

New Galloway based author Sarah Thomas, above, will read from her ecological memoir with the audience invited to listen and, if liked, bring something to make or mend while listening.

Written in vivid prose The Raven’s Nest is a meditation on place, identity and how we might live in an era of environmental disruption, set in Iceland’s otherworldly Westfjords.

It is based on Sarah’s experience of visiting Iceland as an anthropologist and filmmaker in 2008, when she was spellbound by its otherworldly landscape. An immediate love for the country and for Bjarni, a man she met there, turned a week-long stay into a transformative half-decade.

But then, in the midst of crisis both personal and planetary, as her marriage falls apart, Sarah found inspiration in the artistry of a raven’s nest: a home which persists through breaking and reweaving – over and over.

All are welcome to find out more. The story unfolds such that you can join at any point or follow it through.

Jan Hogarth, Galloway Glens education and community engagement officer, said: “The Kvoldvaka tradition, although strongly associated with Iceland, is actually in keeping with practices embedded into Scottish rural culture. It’s a tradition which is both useful, creative, sociable and meditative. Join us to find out more and experience the warmth and magic of the stories and making and mending.

“It is even more relevant today with heating costs so high and the need for communities to come together and keep each other’s spirits up in the coming months.”

 

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