Truth Universally Acknowledged

July 9, 2012

Scotland and the North

Filed under: Uncategorized — mboesl @ 9:56 am

This past weekend, the programme I am with took a trip to Edinburgh. Now, if you know anything at all about Scotland, you know that it is green.

The fields are lush, the forests are lush, even the rocks and crags are lush. Green is, of course, a wonderful color, one that is perfect for a landscape painter or stoplight. However, as Kermit so poignantly sang, “It’s not that easy being green.” Which, of course, it isn’t at all. You see, it’s not that Nature looked down at Scotland and, bemused by their whimsical accents, amount of sheep and dedication to Scotch, decided to benevolently bless the land with beautiful verdant hues. No, the greenery is the result of something far more, tangible: lots and lots and lots of rain. Now, being from Oregon, I understand and appreciate the role of rain in the ecosystem (water cycle, etc). However, even I think that rain showing up in 50% of summer days is a bit excessive. And of course, while we were there, it rained. And rained.

However, the country was truly beautiful. The fog seems to lent the streets a certain aura, an ancientness, a sense of mystery. The streets are remarkably quiet, as if in a perpetual quiet before the storm. Edinburgh itself plays on this delicate balance of self aware drab and hidden magic. In the words of Samwise Gamgee’s description of the magic of the elves of Lothlorian, (Incidentally, he never, as far as I know, visited Edinburgh, though I’m sure he would have had much the same sentiment were he to do so): “It’s wonderfully quiet here. Nothing seems to be going on, nobody seems to want it to. If there’s any magic about, it’s right down deep, where I can’t lay my hands on it, in a manner of speaking.” (Actually, this last sentence pretty well captures the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy, the magic of the place being so supremely subtle. You struggle to put a finger on the magic of the place, though you can put the most powerful piece of magic on your finger. But that’s a topic for another day and another, more qualified, author.) Back to the topic at hand, well, here are some pictures that illustrate what I mean:

Anyway, enough about the place, now a word or two about what we did. One of the highlights of the time was a ceilidh, a traditional Gaelic country dance experience. There was a live band, a caller, and the participants forming up in lines, octets, pairs, etc. Think square dancing with accordions and kilts. For those who have never country danced: a) You should. It is an awesome way to meet a lot of people in a short time, as well as super fun b) It is exhausting. Probably better than Zumba.

In addition to country dances, we had the chance to go on a hike in the countryside. I went to Killin, a small village near a large hill that overlooks Loch Tay. Unfortunately, we were unable to go all the way up the hill, due to the… rain, but we still got high enough to make it worthwhile. Getting down the muddy mountain, though, was where the true fun was to be found. Imagine 40 students clothed in ponchos carefully and cautiously making their way down a muddy slope, avoiding the combined hazards of nettles, thistles, slick mud, and sheep droppings. Most were fairly successful. Others decided the faster way down the mountain would include a bit of time spent sliding through the mud.

Which takes us to the end of this post. I hope you enjoy the pictures, and I’ll try to post more along with any other amusing anecdotes I can conjure up. Till then.

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