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What better to do on a rainy day than dig up old journals? This one is in my favorite style: The size of a book, with a plaid cover, and a multitude of thin lines. It’s my Scotland journal, filled with tidbits from the trip I went on when I was fifteen. I was thinking on it the other day. Here I have all these entries from my life, but so few on that trip. I decided that needed to be remedied.

The first entry that catches my attention was taken down on the plane ride over Canada and then Greenland. I’d never flown before (besides a little plane over the sea a bit. Off the Oregon coast, I think), and I was absolutely thrilled.

I hoped to see the bright stars while flying, but it was not dark. It grew dark for a while, but stayed at “early dusk” all night long. Saw mainland and fragments of Canada as well as ice flows in the ocean. 

Our First Rest: Pannanich

It is early morn–dawn of our first morning in Scotland. There is dew on the window (which we left open). All is still and quiet and lovely. The fields are silvery, and the air smells so very nice. I should sleep for another…

The place is of rough stone and is perfect. Out the back there is a hill sloping upward with dew on the grass and woods farther up. From the patio you can follow a trail to the foot of the brook. Must write a story, for it is perfectly wonderful for the imagination. 

Creeping plants and moss everywhere. In our hallway is a window; I hold the lace curtain back to see a flat roof level w the window and covered in moss and ferns, beyond that is the wild woods. A place for faeries. 

The Games at Ballater 

The games are not overly large, smaller by far than Enumclaw, but a bit bigger than Kelso. In a valley surrounded by hills was a large field where the games were held. In the center of the field was the dancing, piping, and field events. Around the field there was a track where the races were held. Everyone takes everything very seriously here. The runners were all muscle, light of foot, and swift as the gaoth [Gaelic for “wind”].

After watching the field events for a bit (on the side where the booths were) we circled the field to watch (and get a better view) of the dancing. By this time the sun had come out. I took off my shoes for I was quite tired of them.

To get a truly good view of the dannsairs [“dancers”] I had to walk down a ways and stand. A man who was in charge of the gate asked me if I lost me shoes and I jokingly said “Yes!” Every time after that he noted that I still hadn’t found my shoes.

When the premieres came I asked if I could go under the rope and sit on the grass where some folk had situated themselves. He said that they didn’t know it but that they were to be moved soon so that the bands could enter the field to march. But he held up the rope and told me to “Nip over there” and let me go where the dancers were warming up on the grass and sitting about. Very nice. 

Later they held a sprint for the young lassies and I hastily and spontaneously entered. Ran lightly barefoot over the grass and stayed in the middle of the pack. Didn’t win but enjoyed it and showed that just because I was a tourist and talked funny I was still spunky (that was what I felt). 

After much of the dancing we got up to walk about and look around. We stopped in a hat booth. Nani picked out a tam and I tried it on and she got it for me, saying it would be Papa’s present for me. It is of rough wool and is the color of an autumn sunset on a loch [lake]. When I get back home I will fix up a grouping of feathers for it. 

Scottish Dancers  

Total body control

Upper body in unwavering form 

Hips level

Each movement snapped and precise 

Full-out turnout

Bounce

Amazing leaping ability–full splitz

Traveling Through the Highlands by Car

There are crushed stone walkways among the heather where the wee folki must tread. On a moonlit night I can almost see them; their tiny shoes dancing a jig and their musical voices blending with their haunting pipes so merry and clear. 

Inverness 

Can hear (darn pen) the gulls screeching all about. Are trying to navigate the city, absolutely hectic! Several signs in Gaelic. Just crossed the river. It is so weird driving on the “wrong” side of the road. 

A Morning Entry

Woke up quiet-like and got me journal and Bible. Then knocked something over and Mom woke up. 

Along Loch Ness

We are driving along the Loch (Loch Ness, that is. Forgot to mention that minute detail). It is overcast and drizzly. Fog winds through the trees on the opposite bank, through the hills. The Loch is grey-green, we took a picture of a castle out on a jutting bit of land. 

Sunday Church 

This morn we went to a Cathedral-church in Inverness called Ness Bank Church. I feared it would be a bit stuffy, but I was glad to go to a church. It was a grand place; lofty and lovely!

Then the minister came out in his robes wearing of all things a foam visor decorated with cut outs! turns out the church was having a VBS and what they called Seaside Rock. The dibbuns came out and demonstrated what they had learned. Then they sang their songs and did the hand motions led by their leaders. Little ones are so precious! In one song they waved flags, and the pastor in his pulpit waved a flag as well! The wee ones brogues were absolutely adorable! 

The Kirkyard

Am now in a Kirkyard. Can hear the distant calls of gulls. Everything is fresh and new from the rain. Can almost feel the shreds of times long past by. So still and peaceful! Almost as if time itself has stilled. The crosses and stones in rows upon the green. Icy upon the stone wall. The breeze is soft and soothing. 

I am trying hard to get the feeling, but I think I have failed. Must catch up… 

Icy and bushes have overtaken some headstones. In the ruins of the church a forest has sprung up. Swallows have built their nests in the cracked plaster walls. Ivy and sunlight creep through the wooden “cottage” peaked roof. Broken but beautiful. 

The Gaelic church is on a hill surrounded by a pine forest. Yarrow and the like spring from the stone walls. A country serene trail. Ancient. 

The air is almost too fresh and pure, fragrant as dew-washed lilies, to soil by breathing. 

Leaving Inverness by Train 

On the train leaving Inbhir Nis, now moving slowly. Weaving through the city. Through a dark tunnel. Leaving the city behind. Through the woods. Looking down into a valley. Past fields with rolls of hay bales. Through the blur of the leaves, hills blushing faintly purple with blooms of heather. Following streams meandering through fields of waving grasses. Bare hills of rock and heather. On a bridge spanning a valley, hill hopping! Cutting through hills of jagged stone. Skeletons of fallen trees, bleached by the elements, lying among the heather. through murky woods of sap and deadwood, the ground covering in sinking mosses. Past cascades zigzagging through the hills as they tumble and splash. Through a squall. 

Edinburgh Castle  

As she walked upon the cobblestones

Where great men had tread

As she circled up and up

On places many Englishmen had come to dread

There came a flash of history 

A flash from the past

Of many things great and terrible 

Of births and deaths

Of valiant men 

Whose names will not be forgotten 

Nor will they fade

For from them and about them our

lives are built and stories told

Then all faded

But she remembered on 

The Treasures of Scotland 

In the room. In a case there lay the crown upon a red cushion, the stone upon great of old were crowned. The great scepter with its crystal globe, and the sword–a huge thing to wield. 

The stone was a thing of no great beauty, but such great things seldom are. 

The jewels are sparkling things of beauty, but they are equal in my sight to the dew upon the gossamer threads in the early morn of dawn. 

Dinner and a “Show” 

We went to a “dinner and a show.” The only things I liked were the lady fiddler, the boy dancer, and the piper. The rest was flashy and pretty stupid. 

After a while Mom and I went outside. I ran barefoot on the dew-wet grass, fairly flying in the dusky light. Felt like an elf in my leaf skirt. 

A Friend 

Gloria is great fun! She is a couple of years younger than me and is a tall sprite. She and I explore together and talk. And best of all–she is a Christian. 

A Rainy Day

It is rainy and cozy today, a good day to sit in a comfy room with a good book and some fruit and scones and read. I wish I could go to school here! 

Culloden (Pronounced “Cull-aw-den”)

So still and cold. But can hear the agonized screams and battle cries of the brave Scots blended with the sound of musket and canon fire. War is hell! Blood has been spilt here. Boys and men have died. Rain falls softly, like the tears of the women and children–their hearts wrenched and torn. 

Dunrobin Castle 

There is a painting of a fair woman. Dressed in lace and ruffles of ice blue. Pearls at her white throat, her wispy gold hair swept back. 

Another of a golden brown, curly-haired lady, clothed in wispy garments of royal blue and faint yellow. The background of the heather hills and dark storm clouds. 

Now in a nursery filled with toys and books. Rocking horses. Shelves of books. A huge toy ship. A doll’s pram. Scrap books. A doll table where dolls sit for tea. Paintings and carpets and comfy furniture. A doll house with fairy objects. All cozy. 

Going to the Orkneys

Prayed for a dandy day and God gave it to us! Today is Sunday. It is early morn and the sky is the palest, fairest of blues and the clouds are a pastely peach-grey. The sea is silvery-grey, where the sun shines it is a deep aqua-brilliant blue. Gloria and I huddled together against the frigid isle wind. I am actually sailing on Scottish waters! Amazing! 

We are nearing the cliff of an island. The top is a soft green. Sun is shining upon the cliffs, birds wheel in hidden caves, and crevices. 

The land is rolling, rocky, and green and barren. 

Pompous Grass 

We stopped at standing stones. Hotel for a bite. Afterward, Gloria and I went out on the green. She picked up a fallen “pompous” grass and we jousted a bush while I galloped alongside. 

Ring of Brodgar 

I am now sitting on a fallen stone, looking over the clumps of heather to the Loch. So still. Wonder what happened here. The lapping of the waves on the shore. 

Skara Brae 

Older than the pyramids of Egypt. 

Perhaps the reason it was gradually deserted had to do with religion ? 

A hidden village by the sea. 

No wonder they built their village of stone! And such stones–roughly a rectangle. The stones litter the bluff and the beach. 

Hidden Places

Entered into the vast bedchamber through a narrow doorway into a small round room with windows looking all around. Teeny towers set slightly above the ground, on either side of the bedchamber. In each room a cushioned chair was set, and around the walls were shelves filled with books. Underneath the bedchamber is a room. It is set slightly underground. I say “hidden” because it can only be reached through the wardrobe room and it cannot be seen through the windows because the windows are shielded by bushes. This was a nursery. 

Bother 

Oh bother! I hab a gold! Ab a fever! 

It is a dreary day, but I feel much more cheerful and alert now that we are on another adventure! 

Mom says I have been talking in my sleep, which of course I don’t remember. 

I had an oddly cozy sleep. Having a fever is not so bad if you have a warm bed to snuggle into. 

An Ancient Temple 

There was a kirkyard near our hotel that we checked out. It was surrounded by a mossy stone wall. There were silver-barked trees with dark leaves interspersed. In their branches a whole colony of rooks (?) and their nests perched. The kirkyard was built on a sloping hill, the graves were terraced and the stones were tall and mysterious among the trees. On the peak of the hill a stone building was perched. It looked more like an ancient temple than anything else. 

Now traveling through Caithness. 

Pieces of the Sky

A rough, rolling land–rocky and tough, windswept and barren. Nearly brushing the grey, swirling clouds. The high hills covered in hardy grasses moving in the chill breaths of wind, clumps of heather mingled, and jagged stones thrusting up from the land. Treacherous bogs and marshy ponds like pieces of the sky laid among the hills. The distant blue mountains rising majestically like a jagged crown, a challenge to the sea. 

Ullapool 

Sloping forests of light, and sparkling cascades. Heather growing sparsely on the rocky hills. The grand mountains rising in all forms, but always towards the blue sky. A loch as clear as crystal nestled among the protective mountains. 

A harbor of colorful boats upon the loch and at the docks. The rolling hills of blue and greeny-grey surround us. 

A Tale of Giants 

2 giants who the Gauls idolized used to hunt deer. When they caught enough to stem their huge appetite, they would go down to the seashore to cook them. They placed the cauldron they carried upon the triangle of standing stones. 

Ben Nevis 

We are now in a gondola just barely over the tree tops. We are going up Ben Nevis, it is like flying. Up the mountain face! Feel like birds. Now almost going straight up, yikes! 

Am now looking out at Scotland from its highest point. Can only see vague details and colors, blended. Breathtaking! 

Going down. Hovering over the heather and grasses. Past cascades. Oh great, straight down. Now way up, so steep. 

I am flying!

The Garden Forest 

Our high window overlooks heather hills with a smattering of trees, and a wild garden-forest. Our room is light and airy, and the bedspread is of light pink and yellow flowers and leaves. 

Gloria and I went exploring in the wood. She found the perfect stick of straight birch. I was “Whisper” and she was “Breeze” and we went through many dangers turning each object into a fanciful item. We rescued hostages from the tyrant and hid them in a special place by the amber river. we hid from Gremlins by using invisible cloaks, and had a great time! 

Oh! Then we found a clearing with a twisted tree and made it our castle. Awesome! 

Ferry to Iona 

Took a ferry from the mainland to Mull. Now on a teeny ferry heading to Iona. We are scarce a half minute out and already the land is swallowed by fog. I cannot tell if we are moving or not, the rippling waves and fog all look the same. 

[Iona was beautiful, every bit of it; from the abbey, to the white sands and warm waters of aquamarine, to the island itself which was rough and rocky and beautiful with mist and green. We would have stayed there for days if we could have].

Glen of Weeping 

Glencoe is a mist-shrouded valley, surrounded by sheer stone faces that rise up, better than any castle wall. 

The glen is made up of rolling hills of greens, and treacherous ravines where cascades run. Here and there the stones have thrust up through the dew-covered grasses. 

Fare Thee Well 

Scotland is not my home. I can leave but a small piece in this beautiful land. Instead I shall capture it on paper and that is where my heart will be–In my story. 

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