Falling into grace, one step at a time l Chuck's World

By Chuck Sigars | Sep 11, 2019

Summer in the Northwest is abstract, only minimally tethered to the calendar. Summer weather seldom gets going until mid-July, but the season starts when you decide it does.

I suspect we all recognize that it’s ending now, although again, it’s your call. Personally, I knew summer was over when I visited San Antonio last week and landed flat on my face. That’ll end your summer in an instant, although it leaves an impression.

I just walked into a dark house from the bright sunshine, wearing sunglasses, and spotted my grandson across the room. There are only a few things that inspire me to move quickly, most of them involving wasps, but this boy has always been inspiring. I headed toward him and somehow ignored a couple of steps along the way.

Gravity will never give us a break, although things can definitely get broken. I missed a step and made an entrance worthy of Rob Petrie, although I was fine. I wasn’t even all that sore the next day, and I knew then and there that summer was over.

I fell a lot this summer, or it seems that way, and while this might be worrisome I’ve mostly chalked it up to an abundance of distractions. I spent two weeks in Scotland, traipsing around cathedrals and castles.

I fell on wet rocks on an isolated beach in the Inner Hebrides, and down medieval steps carved over half a millennium ago at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.

I slipped and slid all summer, it feels like, never seriously injured, and I’m inclined to believe in guardian angels now. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

Several of you have written to me, sharing your adventures in travel, which has been an unexpected pleasure. Joanne Peterson wrote a lovely piece in the Edmonds Beacon about her own experiences in Scotland and on the island of Iona, a much better description than mine of that remarkable place.

In my defense, I wrote two columns on my phone, with one finger. It was barely work, but it tended to suck the poetry out of the experience, and there was plenty of poetry.

I have no intention of becoming a person who visits another country and won’t shut up about it, although I’ve got 500 photos I’ll be glad to share. There are just a few things I wanted to mention before retiring to my slideshows.

Scottish people seem to have an almost American affection for snack foods, and I sampled a lot. The Scottish tablet was a favorite, a fudge-like confection that is made entirely out of calories and fairy dust (I looked it up).

Put a piece of tablet in your mouth and you’ll understand that no good will come from this. I intend to make a bunch for Christmas.

I ate haggis and haddock, enjoying it all, and I was given some black pudding to sample. Black pudding is a delicacy prank, a trick pulled on unsuspecting tourists to see what they’ll put in their mouths.

“You don’t even want to know what it’s made of,” they say, trying to hide their snickering, but it’s blood. Everyone knows it’s blood. It tastes like it came from a methadone clinic for recovering vampires.

The accents ranged from lyrical to undecipherable, particularly in Aberdeen, where a waitress told us the specials of the day and I suspected half of her words were made up on the spot just to entertain herself.

They always brought me peas, whatever I ordered. Peas seemed to be very popular.

We toured the battlefield at Culloden, the Scottish moor where the famous battle of 1746 occurred and where, I was later informed, a good deal of “Outlander” takes place. No time travel for me, but it was a somber experience.

The weather was reminiscent of a Pacific Northwest spring, mid-60s and often brisk. They have no Seattle-style shyness about using umbrellas, and those came in handy, along with a light coat or sweatshirt.

I wore my Seahawks hoodie often and it was a good conversation starter, as everyone seems to know about Seattle.

A Glasgow hotel clerk wanted to talk about American politics, and while I murmured a few words about it being difficult, my wife was happy to engage. Afterwards, a German woman who overheard the conversation spoke with her, expressing her hope that our opinions were shared by other Americans. We did our best.

The Edinburgh International Festival, including the famous Fringe shows, was all and more than I expected. We sat in a small theater and watched Seattle actress/writer Taige Lauren perform her one-woman show, “Searchers,” a tiny taste of home.

It was all about home, though, here and there. We were charmed by the differences and surprised by sudden familiarity. This was the home of our ancestors, and we felt that, although we were glad to come back with our memories and camera rolls.

And I was struck by Scottish humor, which leans heavily in the self-deprecating direction. This was a good fit for me, a guy who spent a fair amount of time sprawled on castle steps, shrugging off my clumsiness.

I had a good view of Loch Ness from down there, and while I never spotted Nessie, she may have seen me. I’m the man who fell across most of Scotland and willingly ate black pudding with a smile on his face.

I couldn’t stop smiling, it turned out.


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