Carolyn Hillyer is a writer, musician, artist and workshop teacher during the last 30 years. She lives in the heart of high hills and wild moors which directly spill into everything she creates. More details and programme from her website.
...Then that spiky hag of midwinter lifted her hand from the trolley basket and drew our mother deep into her embrace. The rest of us stood there uncertain, until we saw that our mother was glancing back over her shoulder and, with her eyes, beckoning us towards the Granny. Of course we did as she asked, for our mother looked happy and we trusted her completely. We snuggled close, wrapping our arms around our mother, all of us folded inside the soft musky warmth of Granny Yule’s huge coat. As her coat closed around us we each felt entirely alone, not lost and lonely, but whole and content, held inside a winter landscape that somehow we had always known. An intense blend of images and sounds and aromas whirled around us; our skin was vibrant from the touch of ice and wind. Sometimes reindeer moved in close, their breath hot upon our faces. Sometimes unseen creatures howled across a frozen lake, which sent tingles coursing up and down our spines. Sometimes we heard the hiss of fires burning on snow and the clink of bones being played on wood. Sometimes our brows and lashes felt stiffened by frost, and shards of stars tumbled past our eyes. Throughout it all we could hear the Granny singing, low and growly, and our mother’s voice flying in sweet harmonies above. Then we understood the true gift that Granny Yule carried: the oldest memories of winter, an ancient recipe of fire and ice and silent darkness, the deep and dangerous promise of wild forests, all stored and guarded safe inside her yuletide coat...
Extract and illustration from ‘Granny Yule’, Book of Hag © Carolyn Hillyer