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a postcard to scotland

September 22, 2011

Dear Scotland,

I’m not going to lie to ya. I miss you. Aye! I do. I miss you a lot. I miss waking in your misty mornings. I miss sleeping by your rivers. I miss cooking breakfast on the campfire and the taste of slightly burnt toast. I miss sipping coffee out of enamel cups. Hell, I even miss your four-seasons-in-a-day weather.

I miss driving through the highlands and hiking your highest mountain. I miss every steep step of its 4,406 feet, from verdant green valley to grey moon-like peak. I miss lunching up there in the fog and near freezing temperature with all the other rosy-cheeked hikers and that sense of accomplishment. I miss running down the mountain to the pub at the base, where pints of cider and a glowing fireplace greeted our tired bones.

I miss the way you smell like heather honey in the hills and salt and seaweed on the coast and yeast and peat smoke in your distilleries. I miss the scent of sherry and oak casks and the angels’ share evaporating in every whiskey warehouse in the country.

I miss putting up the world’s biggest tent at record speed, racing against the setting sun and the swarms of midges. I miss that I could camp anywhere on your land for free (how very generous of you). I miss the cheeky gusts of wind that nearly sent our tent flying in a Wizard of Oz way (the British Boy didn’t think it was so funny but I got a kick out of it).

I miss swimming in your cold rivers and lochs and fairy pools so green and so clean — diving under arches and sliding down water falls, swimming from one punchbowl to the next. I am forever indebted to wetsuits, without which I would have surely died of hypothermia. I miss the cave where my love took my wetsuit off and helped me back into my clothes while my teeth chattered and my body shivered. I miss the feeling of being warm again and dry and sitting there in that cave, watching the rain fall.

I miss honey whiskey porridge in the morning. I miss snacking on twiglets and listening to The Hobbit on our long drives from one beautiful spot to the next. I miss the bed and breakfast on the Isle of Skye that we were lucky to find through a friend of an acquaintance of a contact of the man behind the bar at the pub. I miss the lovely woman who lived on the island her entire life and met her husband on that island, and married him on that island and had their first child on that island, a sweet cherub like girl (who she nicknamed “trouble”).

I miss that time the British Boy took me to a rocky beach, where he planned to make tomato soup for lunch, but when he pulled the can out of his pocket, it turned out to be a can of refried beans. I miss giggling about it and cooking it up on the trangia stove, then spreading it on Ryvita crackers with chunks of cheddar cheese. It was a perfect moment.

I  miss the amazing Scottish accent that seems to roll off my tongue after a few drinks. I miss my wellies and long green woolie socks, mauve thermals and funky khaki colored skirt and the way I matched the landscape of heather and moss.

I miss your take it or leave it attitude. You make no apologies for who you are. You’re not here to please. You are as rough as your terrain. I dig it. I dig it big time. Your folk, however, are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Salt of the Earth, them Scots. I miss how much Scotland reminded me of Nova Scotia, which reminded me of home. I miss how much the Isle of Skye reminded me of Iceland, which reminded me of this moment, which made me so grateful for not being in a long distance relationship anymore.

I miss hiking along the edge of the Cairngorms and discovering a rabbit commune — a thousand holes in a little patch of forest, each one home to or highway for a rabbit. I miss the dog that led the way for the first 7 miles of that hike. We named him dog. It seemed apt. I wish he’d stayed with us until the end but he disappeared as suddenly as he’d appeared. I miss the puffball mushrooms we picked on that mountain and how we cooked them that night, sautéed in massive amounts of butter and garlic. I miss the castle we stumbled upon at the end of the hike, with a perfect rainbow spilling into it.

I miss day one of the trip, when the car got stuck in the mud by the basin and we spent an hour trying to push and pull and heave it out. I miss how the British Boy and I tried everything to rescue the damn thing and actually, in some strange twisted way, had fun doing it. But in the end, we had to ask for help, and that is how Joe’s friend left his brother in law’s wedding celebrations and drove down in full kilt garb, glass of champagne in hand to tow us out. I miss walking around his castle the next morning and laughing about the whole event (yes folks, my boyfriend has friends who live in castles).

I miss the ominous Old Man of Storr. I wish I’d remembered to bring an extra roll of film up the mountain because this place was out of this world. Needless to say, I had a spare on me wherever I went for the rest of the trip.

I miss parents of friends who invite us into their home after a day of hiking and the first thing they ask is “Now, what do you need? A shower, a bath, food, whiskey?” and then proceed to open up their whiskey cabinet and pour generous drams. I miss dinners by candlelight in great big dining rooms. I miss cheese platers after dessert and the little whiskey decanter waiting for us in our room (as if we hadn’t already had enough of our share). I miss waking at the crack of dawn and tiptoeing out to catch the early morning ferry to Islay. I miss lounging in the quiet room on the 2-hour ride. I miss the silence.

I miss our day on Islay, from the sauna-like bus ride to our distillery crawl (a little tour, a little dram and a mile long walk to the next distillery). I miss the scenic route we found – an entire forest covered in moss from the stone walls to the tips of the trees. I miss nearly missing the bus on the way back and having to hitchhike then run for it. I miss plopping our butts down on the seats in a fit of laughter.

I miss the nearly full moon shining on the lochs on our drive back to the Duries. I still laugh when I think of that night and how we got pulled over by the cops for speeding (45 in a 30 zone) but when it came time to give us a ticket, they accidentally pressed the reset button on their radar and said “It’s your lucky night, mate, you’re free to go.” I’m starting to realize that the British boy has a big horseshoe up his ass and I might have to start rubbing his belly for good luck.

I miss the long drive home. I wish we could still be driving.

I miss you, Scotland. Aye! I do.

With love,

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Christina permalink
    September 22, 2011 5:08 am

    WOW. I almost feel like I was there. It sounds so amazing. I am glad you two enjoyed your trip. Love ya!!

  2. Alison permalink
    September 22, 2011 5:51 am

    I am in awe of this post. Your words and descriptions are so incredibly delicious. They just flow over me like the rivers and waterfalls in your photos. And that 2nd photo? I want to walk that trail. Was it as fantastic as it looks? Thank you thank you thank you for sharing and taking us all on this tour with you. You bring it all alive. xxxooo

  3. September 22, 2011 7:04 am

    I love this post, I love these stories and I love the way you share them! xo

  4. Meagan permalink
    September 22, 2011 9:14 am

    I was in Scotland for 3 days a few years ago and it has owned my heart ever since. It’s the most magical place I have ever been and I have been a lot of places.

  5. September 22, 2011 9:16 am

    wow! what a fantastic images<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  6. Honey permalink
    September 22, 2011 9:19 am

    Such beauty captured in the spirit, words and images. You’ve transported me from my foggy studio in San Francisco. I can feel the heat and crackle off the fire and want to wrap my hands around one of those mugs. You have such a gift! For living, seeing, sharing and presence.

  7. September 22, 2011 11:03 am

    I love that you loved it. Scotland is my home and I miss it, thank you for transporting me back through your beautiful words and pictures.

  8. September 22, 2011 11:05 am

    honey whiskey porridge? dang. and i was just all excited over a salt bagel with cream cheese. (sigh)

    thanks for the postcards, jc….love them both. will right quick send them to the spaniard as he and i have been dreaming out loud of visiting scotland for a while. likely still a few years off…but dreaming is SO fun!

    squam was lovely….and though i did hug the ‘relish girl…i totally forgot to give her your message…sure she received it from another soul.

    so glad you’re where you are, doing what you’re doing with the corduroy wearing lad. i’m rocking cubicle whirled for both of us i suppose (eye roll).

    be WELL!

  9. September 22, 2011 11:51 am

    my motherland! this is my favorite post of yours.

  10. September 22, 2011 12:19 pm

    Oh my, you write so beautifully.
    What a wonderful time you’ve had, captured in words, images and spirit.
    I’m sure Scotland misses you too.

  11. September 22, 2011 8:00 pm

    Honey Whiskey Porridge!??!? Why have I never thought of this? *slaps forehead* 🙂

  12. September 23, 2011 8:07 am

    These pictures are amazing. I’ve never been on the islands. I dream to go there. Now even more … or no longer have to, because everything I could see there is in your photos 🙂

  13. September 23, 2011 2:15 pm

    Your trip sounds out of this world, and so it was, compared with Minnesota. So beautiful and graceful. Your words transport me there, and you are a most excellent tour guide. Thanks for sharing. (I MAY just want to go there…myself some day!)

  14. Ingrid permalink
    September 25, 2011 7:43 pm

    Wow! Beautiful words and images – I would add ‘as always’ but this time you have excelled yourself. Thank you for letting me share your experiences. And it’s good to see your gnome went along too!

  15. September 30, 2011 12:36 pm

    I just found your gorgeous blog. Your photos of Scotland are exquisite and I cracked up when I saw your travel gnome! I have the same gnome (although he has a chip in his hat from a nasty fall). My daughter amuses herself by hiding it in unexpected places where I’ll be sure to find it, my purse, under my pillow and the latest in the shower (I think he was quite shocked by the look on his face! Cheers!

  16. October 6, 2011 12:07 pm

    !!! damn if i haven’t missed a LOT. this is amazing. the words the words the images the images!!

  17. opiatik permalink
    November 15, 2011 10:15 am

    I know why I have moved to Scotland. I just can`t say it in such a way. Beautiful!

  18. April 5, 2012 1:43 pm

    Loved your post…. have come across your blog before and it came across my path again – and NOW I’m bookmarking you! 🙂 My husband and I visited Scotland last year for 10 days and I LOVED it! Your words magically put all of my experiences right in front of me again. Thank you! 🙂

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