Back home, and resettling into the routine swing of things, we find we’ve kind of lost track of most of August, and are feeling shocked that the Wees and the Littles are going to be back in school in just a few weeks (the Wees in a new school, no less), and that the tomatoes (still largely green – what’s up with that?) are heavy in the wild tangle known as our garden, and even the eggplant has two fat golf ball sized fruit, and getting bigger every day. We’d forgotten how dry the air here is, how frequent the fires — and spent the first week back sneezing and using the humidifier. After the luxury of damp Scottish air and delicious Scottish water, getting back to pitcher filters and that sort of thing is a drag — but, it is what it is. We’re home, and missing friends, but glad to be here.
It was a little funny to remember how much we’d forgotten having been away from Scotland for another year. Both of us laughed at hearing the lyrical descriptive swing of the “Glesga patter” fairly leap from our mouths again — not to mention the unique pronunciations of the brogue. We say to-may-toe, they say toe-mah-toe, and when in Rome, or rather Glasgow, that’s one of the words we normally leave alone, but T. actually heard herself slip into the British pronunciation, much to her amusement.
Aye, Scotland. It’s catching, mate.
We haven’t lost much of our “ear” – people ask us all the time if we go back to Glasgow, and are unable to understand people, but no – that hasn’t happened yet. Even away from Glasgow, we understood cab drivers and the odd guy in the pub, but there are always people one doesn’t understand — and that’s fine. We’re pretty sure that a few people in Maine or Louisiana would be also equally incomprehensible. (Or someone from the five boroughs – T’s agent is from Brooklyn, and sometimes…) We fondly seized on being called “love,” in a casual way, and took in stride the affection chivying, “oh, go on, go on,” to encourage us to eat another chocolate, or do something we wanted to, but were holding out against for manners’ sake. We smiled to hear the casual insertion of the word “ginger” in conversation, and the speaker not mean a spice. Or, speaking of gingers, our friend L mentioned the word “oxters,” in passing, and it took us a minute to remember that she means “underarms.”
(T’s favorite of these body-parts words is bahookie – and yes, everyone has one; it sounds exactly like what it is.) We heard the word “clipe” (or clype – spelling is purely at-will in Ulster-Scots dialect) and remembered it as a particularly clipped-sounding word for “tattletale.” We rediscovered – and still did not partake of – the food “cranachan” and still are more than a bit dubious about a dessert in which whiskey soaked oats, raspberries, cream and honey play a part. We delighted in the boon of a Scottish summer — berreis, berries, berries — and extended California’s berry season by two months instead of the paltry one we usually have, with tons of raspberries, strawberries, and brambles/blackberries. We even found some cherries, just as we were leaving, that were amazingly sweet. We had mince — and mushy peas — which were frighteningly good – and even neeps and tatties – though the neeps were an accident; T. goes out of her way to avoid the “neeps” or turnips/swedes in any dish, at all costs. But, even so, it was so good to reacquaint ourselves.
Back home, we’ve remembered what we love about August – bare feet on hardwood floors (only slightly dusty), misty mornings when the fog rolls in, the Perseids, on a clear night away from town, the presence of raccoon — three now, dear God help us — under the kitchen deck, and resuming our attempt at amateur Audubon-ing- around the feeder, two crows have become regulars, as well as a very confused mourning dove (who may soon be eaten by the Cooper’s hawk), three pushy Jays, and a stripey-headed thing we cannot for the life of us identify — but it flits, and is tiny and almost as fast as the hummers. (We should probably just break down and get a bird book, as the Cornell Ornithology website can only do so much.) We are also in melon season — the the most amazing, fragrant charentais can be had from Riverdog’s stand at the farmer’s market — and we caught the last of the cherry glut, and are moving on to the last of the peaches and plums. We feel rich in produce, in scents, in the feel of the sun on our backs.
We’re drunk on the light and the soft air and the long days — but everyone keeps telling us we’re going to have a heckuva winter here in Cali. A large part of us – that part which spent a month of summer ducking into doorways for shelter from plowtery weather – are thinking, “bring it on!” We now have rubber welly boots, mackintoshes, and more umbrellas than you can shake a stick at, and when it’s blowin’ a hoolie, we’ll be ready. Once again, Scotland to the rescue.
Until then… enjoy the summer, and photos of a green and pleasant land.