Monday, October 29, 2007

Scots, wha hae

Elisabeth is in England. My baby girl off on her own in a far away place we have only dreamed of until now. I think I have spent at least an hour a day crying since she left. Crying because I was frightened of her alone and far away. Crying because I so wanted to be there too, and crying because more than anything else I missed her so much my heart ached.

How very silly I kept telling myself. She is all grown up. How will you cope if she ever moves away? I have come to the conclusion that I simply won't be able to. Even Sarah cried because she missed her sister. What? Is this possible? It would seem they really do love each other.

And me, this woman who is so very much a woman of the past and old fashioned pursuits, thanks the gods for the wonders of modern technology. Not only have I been able to speak with Beth every single day via mobile phone, I have been able to chat with her live on the computer, and literally watch as her latest photos appear like magic before me from thousands of miles away. I could hear the tolling of the bells at Saint Paul's Cathedral, live, as Beth stood outside, and hear the soft Scottish brogue of a man complimenting Beth on her American accent. I heard the wind blow across the water of Port Glasgow as if I were there. And when she was homesick and her heart was breaking, I was there to hear her tears too. Imagine if it took weeks for letters to cross back and forth across the continents. Imagine no phones or electricity in the wilds of Scotland. Imagine the cold abruptness of telegrams. I am glad I live in a very modern age and I can incorporate the old and embrace the new, and appreciate the gifts it brings my life.

In fact, this concept of old and new seems to define Britain as well. So very chic, trendy and hip, with little shops that dispense fresh organic salads, sandwiches and sticky buns faster than you can say McDonald's and a Lush shop on every corner, which must be why all Brits have lovely skin and are stick thin. And all this chic appears to blend seamlessly with old tweedy Britain with its towering edifices of Gothic archways, medieval halls and Victorian memorials. The air in these places actually seems to have weight it is so old. If you like the smell of antique stores or old books, you'll know what I mean, but multiply that aroma by centuries. Elisabeth says she wishes she could bottle it. Around every corner there is history. They have so much history and it is so very everyday and common place, that you wonder if they even really appreciate it. Can they grasp what it's like to have so very little, like America?

Scotland is as you imagine it to be. Pipers piping and every shop window filled with a rainbow of plaid to catch a tourists eye. Rolling hills, misty mountains, and real steam engine trains winding their way through the countryside. Little old ladies line up for the bus with their shopping bags and little old men totter about in woolly cardigans eager to chat up the American who is following the trail of William Wallace. Herds of highland cows, hillsides of heather, streets full of kilts. Scots have a wonderful sense of humor, and they know how to market the hell out of their countries best product.

What is it exactly that makes what is essentially a girls skirt so attractive on a man? Is it those firm Scottish legs? Is it the way the plaid clings so nicely to the bum? Or is it that the men who wear it do so with a certain swagger to their walk? And take a look at the television ads promoting Scottish beef featuring a handsome highlander named Glen. All over Britain women know what they want for dinner...

If you want to see more of Glen, copy and paste the above web address into your browser, and go to the bottom of the Quality Scottish Beef page. Now click the tiny red print that says view television advertising. There are 3 commercials in total.

I was with Beth in Scotland, at one very special spot. Port Glasgow. Standing on the rocky beach as the tide was going out, Beth called me on the phone. I could hear the wind and the water. The ferry boats crossing the water were playing Scots wha hae.

"I'm here mom. I'm standing on the exact spot on the beach from Dear Frankie..." And for those moments across all those miles I was there, standing on the barnacle encrusted pillar where Gerry Butler had once sat. Beth got me a great gift there. A rock all green with moss.


If you would like to read more about Elisabeth's Transatlantic Adventure, please visit her blog at: