“I luv ém to bits” she said as she snipped my hair and told me about her customers, some of whom have been with her for decades. During the winter months, when the steep roads can be icy, I asked if she closed shop and just stayed home, but no, her husband either takes her or she walks “only seven miles”. I’d imagine the customers mostly stay at home on days of ice or driving rain but again, no. They come in all weather. “Mad as a box of frogs,” she says.
Here are three things I’ve noticed in the last month of living in Pontypridd:
v Many people have been here a while. For some, they’ve lived in this area for decades; others were born here (or very close by), others have great- grandparents born in the area. Roots go deep, and appreciation for the land, the culture, the intertwining stories of people and place run equally deep.
v There is a great love for neighbours, friends, and people of the community. And for those in this community, as in every village, city or town, who are more challenging to love — those whose lives have been broken and walk through the world more visibly wounded than others — love is expressed through care, patience, understanding. People are included; programs are supported; a place is provided.
v The people of Ponty are tough. They’ll walk seven miles in the cold to get to work because they know a customer will come despite the weather. These are folks that can make ends meet, who are not pretentious in the slightest but have dignity and honour and will give you the warmest welcome should you pass this way. Hard work is never a deterrent for a worthwhile project and the concern for others almost always tops a concern for oneself.
As for the people of St. David’s Uniting, well, they are all this and then some. They are a remarkable and delightful group of people. The next blog entry will be about them. For now, whoever is reading this and wherever you are, I hope you are part of a community that, for all of its seen and unseen flaws, you “love to bits”.