I have a case of the glooomies. I can think of no other reason except that it’s the end of February, which here in Virginia feels like the purgatory of months. It may be the shortest month but somehow it feels like the longest! We’re too far removed from the holidays now to bask in the nostalgia and still a few weeks away from the the warmth and beauty of a new season. We’re caught in that yucky in-between time where winter feels unrelenting. Hurry up spring!
Friends, today I want to take a look at an iconic feature of Edinburgh’s skyline. When you visit the city, you notice right away that the landscape is dotted with spires. Perhaps the most recognizable among them is the awesome, gothic tower that looks as if it could have come straight out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination.
“O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair”, by Scottish poet Robert Burns
O were my love yon Lilac fair, Wi’ purple blossoms to the Spring, And I, a bird to shelter there, When wearied on my little wing! How I wad mourn when it was torn By Autumn wild, and Winter rude! But I wad sing on wanton wing, When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.
O gin my love were yon red rose, That grows upon the castle wa’; And I myself a drap o’ dew, Into her bonie breast to fa’! O there, beyond expression blest, I’d feast on beauty a’ the night; Seal’d on her silk-saft faulds to rest, Till fley’d awa by Phoebus’ light!
Today may I present to you… The Kelpies of Falkirk, Scotland.
Well, as I saw them, at least. Sadly, that would be as Mr. C and I whizzed past them on the M9 (I think). I wish I could tell you that we had scheduled time to visit The Helix to walk the trails, take a paddle boat for a little spin on the lagoon, and to capture some artsy fartsy photos of these really cool equine sculptures. But nope. Because for some reason, I thought Falkirk was located in the Highlands and not a mere 27 miles from Edinburgh! Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden I spotted these big guys coming up fast at 70 mph out the car window. I mean, what the Kelp?! I barely had time to grab my camera before they were a memory.
One of my favorite discoveries from our Scottish adventures is a unique company called Heathergems. The only manufacturer of its kind, the Heathergem company produces beautiful jewelry and other gift items from the stems of the heather plant.
I first saw these interesting creations at the James Pringle Shopping Outlet in Leith, Scotland (a decent place to look for a few souvenirs, if not a tad bit on the kitschy side – I did once find a very good hat!). I have since seen Heathergems for sale at the Celtic shop near my hometown here in the States.
Aside from the Scottish thistle, perhaps no other flower epitomizes Scotland the way that the heather plant does. It makes me think of the movie Brigadoon – Gene Kelley capturing the heart of the beautiful Cyd Charisse as he sings sweetly to her of the heather on the hill. The song follows with a dance number that has the pair gliding over the moor and I think that maybe Cyd Charisse isn’t the only one who is falling in love. We do too a little.
Welcome back! I hope everyone is having a terrific week.
Today I would like to pick up where I left off in my previous post about Scottish poet Robert Burns and the annual Burns Night celebration. I promised you I would go a little deeper into the life of the man who penned ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and who some 222 years later, is regarded as the national poet of Scotland. So let’s dig in!
Ol’ Rabbie was a handsome chap, eh?
The eldest of seven children, Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in a small town in Ayrshire, Scotland. His father, William Burnes (the family later dropped the ‘e’), and mother, Agnes Brown, were poor tenant farmers. Because of their impoverished situation, young Robert’s formative years were spent engaged in hard, manual labor on the family farm. This facet of his life would shape his world view and inform his writing throughout the years.
Today is a big day in Scotland and for those of Scottish descent around the world. For today is January 25, the birthday of Scotland’s beloved national poet, Robert Burns.
Also known as Robbie Burns, Rabbie Burns (my personal favorite), The Ploughman Poet, and the Bard of Ayrshire, Burns is one of Scotland’s most celebrated sons. You may know him best as the man who first penned the words to ‘Auld Lang Syne‘. And I’m sure you have heard the poetic verse: “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June”. Perhaps you are familiar with Burns’ narrative poem, ‘Tam O’ Shanter’. Or, maybe you have a fondness for one of Rabbie’s other 713 works (possibly more?), which range in topic from death and war, anguish and greed, fromreligion and politics, to love and sex (and many other topics in between). There is certainly no shortage to choose from. *Although archived and no longer updated, I discovered a BBC page dedicated to Burns that lists 716 poems and songs. It allows you to search for works by title, season, theme, and year written. Well worth a look if you are at all interested in Rabbie’s poetry.
Every January 25, Robert Burns is celebrated with the annual Burns Night Supper. I have never had the good fortune to take part, but oh how I would love to!
So, what does a Burns Supper involve? Fun, I would imagine!
Wow, I simply cannot believe 2018 is almost here. In less than 48 hours, the first of you will celebrate the strike of midnight and the rest of us will follow as the waves of time roll across the dark, deep sea.
A new year. A new beginning. A fresh start. A blank page beckoning to be written upon. What will you write on your page this year?
In my great love affair with Scotland, I learned something that I would like to share with you. If I were to quiz you on the name of the song sung on New Year’s Eve the world over, you would probably tell me it’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’. And you would be correct. But does anyone (aside from our awesome friends-the Brits) know to whom the song is attributed? I never really gave it much thought, but how strange that so many of us across the globe ring in the new year singing the exact same tune and yet the majority of us likely do not know where it originated or even understand what the words are all about. It reminds me of the humorous dialogue exchange between Billy Crystal’s and Meg Ryan’s characters at the end of one of my favorite movies, ‘When Harry Met Sally’.
Harry: [about Auld Lang Syne] What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?
Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.
-from ‘When Harry Met Sally’, 1989
Roughly translated “for old times’ sake” or “days gone by”, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is nothing if not all about preserving old friendships, raising a glass, and looking back with nostalgia over the events of the year. It is a song steeped in sentimentality that has the power to momentarily bind us together in remembrance, in the celebration of the moment, and in hope for the future. Joy, kinship and comaraderie…even melancholy and regret…these are just a few of the feelings I think this song has the power to invoke. Thus is the great power of music.