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.
We planted our chairs in one of the music groves and staked our claim beneath a green canopied spot in the woods. When not wandering from tent to tent, talking, asking questions, listening to the lore of different clans, I returned to our “spot” to find my husband enjoying one of the various traditional performers, or a celtic rock band.
I met up with old friends—Robert who is a tremendously talented jeweler; Cindy who, along with Stuart, represents Clan MacAlister magnanimously. I made new friends, as well. Paul, and Caroline, from Clan Galbraith were overtly kind and welcoming as I offered the tent a copy of Dragon’s Lair (in which a Rain ua Galbraith is the protagonist). Ellie and Jenny asked to take a photo of us in our finery, and ended up taking a book, as well.
And then, there is Jesse, a member of the Crossnore Fire Department who saved my woolen cloak when I lost on one of the transport buses. Mere thanks cannot cover may gratitude for reunite us.
The true star, however, is always the weather. Friday was cool enough to make the bonfire welcome. Friday and Saturday brought sunshine on the meadow~perfect for the activities. Sunday, as ever, brought a misty morning perfect for the ”Kirkin’ of the tartans”, followed by rain for that highland ambience.
And as we piled into the car for the ride home, we started planning for next year.