Saturday, 6 September 2008

Come to Scotland

Drinking tea. Waiting for the postman. Listening to Duncan Chisholm’s new album, Farrar. Yesterday the world was taken up and lightly tossed, the tree branches bouncing like salad leaves. Gone now is the light that has infused everything since the spring. Today the wind blows, trailing winter’s grey. Last night I lit the candles, just enough of them to caress the darkness. I sat and listened to Lorient Mornings over and over. I adore this song. I love how the notes linger and then fall away like leaves. Goodbye, they say.
I think of Scotland and of how much I would miss if it I left. I think of the expression that comes over my grandparents’ faces when they hear a song they knew in their childhood. That far-away, aching look, eyes skirting the edge of shadows. I feel that way when I hear this music, and I am still here.
Other than when I am with John, I spend my free time alone. I have no circle of intimate friends who know my secrets and share my obsession with slow rhythms and ripe fruit. My family is 5,000 miles away. But I stay. I stay because there is a story here that I can feel. It is so old it no longer needs words to be told. You can pick it up in the sight of the heather or in the way the mist clamours up a mountainside. You can hear it in the gentle sway of these songs. It is haunting, melancholy tale, but imbued with love and faith in people, in their instinct for kindness. Everyday frailty that walks tall on an unmoveable mountain of shared history. The ancestors still dance in the valleys during the turn of the seasons, their hands pushing us forward, always forward, into a new day.
Come to Scotland and I will show you what I mean. Come to Scotland and we will walk the road that winds through Glen Nevis, past the sheep and the shaggy coos, our faces soothed with light rain, our fingers chilled at the tips. Come to Scotland and I’ll teach you how to slow your fork through that first piece of sticky toffee pudding. We can walk the country lanes and let our eyes follow the curve of the stone walls, knowing that the hands that built them studied every rock before placing it down in a jigsaw of perfection. Come to Scotland to see the steep cobbled road that leads down into Dean Village, and we can take the trail all the way along the river to Leith. We can sit among the gravestones and look down at Glasgow Cathedral, or watch the broken lines of Urquhart Castle fade away as we cross Loch Ness. You will feel the silence that exists underneath of everything, the way the land and people are cupped inside a great palm of the past.
Come to Scotland. Come to Scotland.

5 comments:

your new best friend said...

you have absolutely no idea how badly i would take you up on that invite right now... if money grew on zucchini vines or if somebody i knew had a tesseract

Purest Green said...

I had to look up tesseract on Wikipedia. Where do you learn these things? Hey, my mom said the fall fair was glorious - did you go? Ah, the 100 Mile Fall Fair. Good times.

your new best friend said...

from madeleine l'engle. and, yes my dear a-lo entered 5 creations (for the first time ever!) and rocked the fair with 3 ribbons - 2 blue and one red!)
uh...not that it is about winning...and stuff..er...

Purest Green said...

My mom won another vegetable prize and plans to enter loads more next year. Not that it is about winning...no...

Marcheline said...

You have no idea how every day I long to do just that... come to Scotland.

I traveled there twice, alone. Once just for four days, having been convinced to spend the other three with my cousin in Manchester, England. The second time I went back (just two months after my first trip) I told no one, and spent a glorious two weeks in my tiny rental car, Atlas in hand, eating up the entire country with a big spoon. Spent one night on Lewis and one on Skye and drove right up the middle by Loch Ness, too. The car rental lady didn't believe me when I told her the mileage as I turned in the car.

I have never loved or missed a place as much as Scotland - and that was even BEFORE I ever went there.

I can't tell you how happy it made me when Scottish Life magazine (my lifeline, really) did a story on how Scotland used to be butted right up against America, and there are streaks of North American soil running right through parts of Scotland even now.

Everything made sense to me then, how I could be born and raised here but feel a part of there... because there used to be here.