In the Lair...
As August wanes, and September rolls in, my thoughts turn to Autumn. Soon, chimneys will fill the air with the scent of wood burning fires, leaves will crunch beneath our steps, and many of us will wait for the Autumnal Equinox, when everything is once more in balance,
The changing of seasons, whether by thermometer, or by calendar brings a calmness of mind. We sip a cup of cheer (warm cider or pumpkin spiced everything) and begin to gather with friends and family. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Yule, etc. all fall in line as the equatorial lines are drawn.
And for a few of us, it is a time to remember those who linger ever in our memories. Stonehenge and other sites have been considered gathering places where people gathered to worship the calendar, the seasons, and their ancestors.
Sounds like a great reason to gather and celebrate. Cheers! Let the leaves fall, and the celebrations begin.
Of Mist and Mountains
First, comes the mist; wisps of white cloaking the tower of green and grey as we weave through the mountain highway climbing ever higher. Then comes the excitement of the bus ride as those who follow the lure of Grandfather make their way to the meadow. The energy is palpable. Brightly colored tents, the wail of fiddles and bagpipes, the laughter of friends who have not seen each other for a year (or more) all combine to create a wonderland of history. Tales are woven, cabers tossed, and memories made in the four days comprising the largest Scottish gathering in North America.
More than a decade had passed since we last walked the trail from the bus stop to MacRae Meadow and the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. For 65 years, families and those interested in all things Scottish have come to the mountain to celebrate ancestry, music, and craft.
Thursday offered a bonfire as a member of each clan is called to declare the clan present and ready to stand for the weekend. Friday and Saturday are dedicated to caber toss and sheep herding, dancing and bagpipe competitions, and occasional impromptu processions of pipe and drum bands, or special groups (this year the Outlander fan-clan strolled with Duncan Delacroix.) I visited one tent at the far end of the field gave workshops in Gaelic language. Another just around the corner, offered harp demonstrations.
To every thing, there is a season…
September and October bring the promise of nostalgia as autumn marks a season of rest . Summer draws to a close, and the kids go back to school. Crops are ready for harvest, sweaters come out storage, and our minds turn from water skiing to cozy nooks piled high with books.
Autumn has always been my favorite part of the year. Where some mourn the loss of sunshine and barbecues, I revel in the crispness of the air, the golden hues of the trees and the sunsets, and the promise of a quiet that descends upon the earth, like a down comforter.
While the hazy days of summer fade, the scent of cinnamon and apples permeate the air. Suddenly, all-things-pumpkin take over coffee shops and bakeries. Grocery store aisles are filled with apple cider, spiced tea, and mulling spices. The boys of summer run toward the World Series, and suddenly televisions are filled with gridiron games narrated by barrel-voiced baritone armchair quarterbacks.
Suddenly, I find myself longing to visit with an old friend…Ray Bradbury, and his hauntingly beautiful story, Something Wicked This Way Comes.
There is a magic to his words which hypnotize the heart, propelling the reader, back in time, to a world where every town had a Main Street, where every community was the village that raised each child, and where evil only existed in the dark of night behind the folds of a mystical carnival tent.
Bradbury’s story gives us so much more, however. Through Will Halloway’s father, we see ourselves. Adults who strive to carry a torch and follow the path, occasionally pausing to look back and find that children we once were, frolicking in the leaves, and running with wild abandon and laughter into that golden sunset.