Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Dylan Thomas Trip to Shakertown

We had a delightful bit of providential timing last night.

Near Danville is Pleasant Hill, a restored Shaker community now known as Shakertown. It is, in my opinion, the most beautiful human-made place in Kentucky. I took the family there for Christmas Eve-eve dinner.

My mother-in-law brought a recording of Dylan Thomas reading "A Child's Christmas in Wales," a favorite family poem that I used to read to the kids when they were small. We started listening as we pulled out of the driveway. "I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six," and all that follows, carried us through the misty December twilight in the lovely Kentucky countryside.

As we came in sight of the entrance to Shakertown, Dylan Thomas was winding down Christmas day.

Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.
And he spoke the last word as we pulled up to the stop sign opposite the Pleasant Hill gate.

So now we know: the distance from Danville to Shakertown can be measured in the scientific unit of one Child's Christmas in Wales.

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