On this last day of the only March of 2009, I've been thinking again of Scotland. I'd been reading a blog I enjoy, and one of the questions was "Where would you like to go before they wheel you off to THE HOME?"
And of course, I'd like to return to Scotland. I'd dreamt of going all my life, and had wished to breathe the Highland air just once.
And it was exactly as I had hoped and wished for all my life---misted mountains, deep-gray lochs with hidden, mysterious depths, the heather a rusty shadow all across the hillsides, just before the Summer bloom. I took off my shoes as I stepped down for the first time, in reverence for that mystical place.
We heard grim tales and heroic ventures; we tasted haggis and a wee dram at a musical evening of bagpipes and drums; we heard the mournful wail of “Massacre at Glencoe,” played by the composer---one of the best musicians I’ve ever heard, and a master of the accordion. Even still sitting at the dinner table, I had to catch a tear or two in the big red linen napkin. We saw sites of battles, the Stone of Scone, the Royal Sceptre and Crown hidden and found and claimed again, heard tales of victories and wild men and triumphs of old times.
I read a lovely line just before we went, and had my daughter Caro inscribe it for me in the front of the journal she had given me for Christmas, before we even knew that we were going---it was a tan book with a shadowy picture of Stonehenge on the front. The words were the words of someone going to Scotland:
To the land of moorland, lochs and mountains, where the old gods ride the winds.
So I went, and so I loved it, and someday hope to return. I wanted the full experience, trudging the hills with a staff, stout-laced boots, and a pocket sandwich, to look down from the highlands into a loch at sunrise, but we bus people settled for a lot of looking and seeing and hearing of the rich history of the place.
And now, the longing overtakes me now and again, and I'm hoping to go in the soonness of time. I have the boots, but I suppose I'll have to buy the staff when I get there. Perhaps if I plunge it strongly into that hilly, historied earth, it may sprout into a tree that will remember my name.