Monday, June 26, 2006

Our Weekend in Scone (Perthshire) – June 26, 2006

Did I tell you that the sun never sets in Aberdeen during the summer that it simply rests itself? After midnight, the sky slumbers in twilight, proffering up brilliant hues of pink and blue and purple as if it might be dreaming of a sunset someplace off the island of Santorini. Fortunately, the curtains in our room are substantial enough to shut out the affects of a nuclear attack, so we’re only befuddled by this phenomenon if we happen to get up in the night for any reason. Further south, the sun sets at the respectable time of eleven or so and doesn’t wake up until about four, as was the case in Perth, where we spent the weekend with Rose and Agata and little Natashia.

Rose’s house is like a sanctuary for me and has been since the day I met her this time last year. The tenderness and ease with which she welcomes you permeates the space like an ancient meditation. The house opens up to you like a river accepting its tributaries and there we retreat from our now active lives in Aberdeen. Agata prepares our favorite Polish treats while Natashia abounds with the energy expected of her 5 ½ years, full of whimsy and playfulness and always ready for a walk to the park. I’m certain of what draws me to Rose is the absence of any trifling petition of my presence there to tranquilize the most challenging road we must all travel into old age and this humility alone, of course, makes me want to move mountains if it made her burden even marginally lighter. She has no idea how much respect and admiration I have for her, nearly to a point of archetypal as she is everything I hope to be in my later years. Her sacrifices have been great, her suffering enormous and her love of all things human is divine. She can bring me to tears (not intentionally) just by the way she puts on her coat. How grateful I am for Rose.

…And, Agata, who teaches me how to make Golabki (pronounced gaw-wump-kee) literally meaning “little pigeons”, cabbages rolls stuffed with rice, wild mushrooms, red and yellow peppers in a tomato sauce and soups and salads that bear an immortal quality all of which she makes for us, these Polish culinary specialties, each time we visit.

Theresa and Iain joined us for dinner on Saturday night and we drank lovely Spanish wine that Iain brought from his father’s house. The table is small and the surroundings are most modest, but the conversation is lively and exciting and even washing up, Agata sings and acts silly making the evening always memorable and fun. (For Johanna and Natalia), Ciocia Terenia and Uncle Iain send their very best, big hugs and can’t wait to see you soon and Rose speaks frequently about how proud of both of you she is, as is your father and I.

Finally, the consecutive walks up Kinnoull Hill restored my soul to its proper place. I’m off on another mission this morning, apart from discovering the most dreadful restaurants in Aberdeen (another of which we uncovered last night – a Tapas eatery owned by McDonald’s, I’m sure) – seriously, a chain of Tapas places called La Tasca, which actually did have decent Sangria and great bread – so, we’d stop for that again and the salsa music as we make our way to the yet discovered treasures that await.

Meanwhile, the locals in Scotland, even as far south and as cosmopolitan as Edinburgh are in protest at what the hyper markets or what Sean F. calls the “Huber stores” are doing to the farming industry here. There is indeed an evolving trend to support local farmers by buying only produce from the farmer’s market and boycotting whenever possible any of the larger stores like ASDA (the equivalent to Wal-Mart). For those of you who know me well, you know I’ve met my heaven.

The plan is to network (and I’ve already met Alan, the owner of Aberdeen’s finest health food store – Nature’s Larder) my way to a local farmer who would let me start a label (working title: The Stone Table – the origin of which rests (a stone table) midway up the climb to the summit of Kinnoull Hill, plus the fact that one can’t think of Scotland without thinking about stones or cairns at any rate), so not only to network my way to the local farmers so as to buy their produce but to proudly preserve their vegetables, can you just see a beautifully decorated jar of beets or carrot jam, plum chutneys, or marinated eggplant boasting the name of a local farmer? We’ll see. I’m most energetic, but I have to first get the facts. I don’t know if there is a market for this or if the market is already saturated, but Theresa and Iain thought the timing was good and even directed me to the Scottish Enterprise Grampian (an organization like the Small Business Administration in the States). Naturally, there would be a book to companion these efforts so I have my work cut out for me this week, not to mention, Paul has signed me up for driving lessons – YIKES – should we alert the City Transportation Dept?

PS – Our house is good and well and leased and we love Roy, our new landlord. The bypass has been debated in the Greenbelt for now forty years. Things move a little bit slower over here – we’re not terribly worried about our living room any more.

Love to you all.


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