Monday, November 26, 2012

Wonderful weekend and beautiful return home...

This past weekend, Ailleas Designs took part in an Exclusively Highlands Christmas Fair at beautiful Castle Fraser in Aberdeenshire. It was a wonderful event and I did very well (helped, to a great extent, by my having my very own card reader!). It was terrific to meet new stallholders, along with seeing others who have become great friends. I highly recommend Blackbird House, the site belonging to the talented Emma Evans. Her art is charming, sweet and innocent and I adore it. I can also recommend, for those of you in the UK, the Rose Cottage Kitchen. I can personally attest to the incredible deliciousness of Katrina's creations. Her green tomato chutney is, in a word, amazing! I can't move on until I also mention the lovely Katie and her Tweedie Bags. I bought two of her adorable Harris tweed brooches. Lovely and well made. And last, but not least, Eileen Smilie, with whom I shared a large, antique table, brought her stunning silk dyed scarves, felted scarves, felted bead necklaces, and myriad other creations of beautiful colour and texture. 

Castle Fraser near Kemnay, Aberdeenshire

I can also recommend, should you ever visit the area, the wonderful B&B West Mains Steading. Anne was a wonderful hostess and we enjoyed the charm of the building, the fire in the guest lounge and the comfy bed that welcomed us each night after the market.

What was perhaps the most lovely part of the weekend was the drive home. Not simply because we were anxious to return home, because we were. But because the drive itself was so beautiful. From the moment we left Inverness heading to the west coast, everything became almost magical. It was after nine in the evening, but the moon, not quite full, reflected against the snow at the tops of the hills. From the darkness below, these shining crowns of white rose and illuminated the sky. And on the sides of the road, as we traveled toward Little Loch Broom, we saw the car lights reflected in the eyes of deer - we lost count, but we surely saw more than 30 last night. From groups of young stags, each with a dramatic crown of antlers, to the groups of does with their growing young, it always lifts my heart to see them. By the time we reached home, the clouds that had rained down on the northeast of Scotland were a memory. Small balls of fluffy white clouds basked in the moonlight and twinkling stars winked as we looked up. So very beautiful here. So lucky... 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A special anniversary...

The weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter now. We turned back our clocks last weekend (a week before the US) and our sunrise today was at 7:43 am and our sunset was 4:37 pm. But we don't really care. As I've said before, we make up for it with the long days of summer. But, with the evenings closing in, we feel so cosy in the little bothie by the loch. And we are treated to such lovely views in the evenings. Chris got this glorious shot of the Torridons as the sun was setting. Yes, I know...terrible we have to live in such a place. (Grin)

It was two years ago today that Chris and I returned to Scotland. We left my mother and all our dear friends back in the States, but we knew we had to come back to the place that makes us happy. For those of you who have been following this blog, the road was often bumpy, but we found our way. We found our way to where we dreamed of being and the friends we are making are as dear to us as the old ones we left back in the States or elsewhere in the UK.

I am a great believer in every step of the journey meaning something. Sometimes we don't know at the time, but we are able to look back from where we are and understand. All the heartache and fear that we experienced when we found ourselves in a precarious position, that was what balances the unending happiness we feel now. It all balances out and everything, indeed, happens for a reason.

Tomorrow is the weekly market in Gairloch and I look forward, as always, to taking part. Not only a day to sell my wares, but a day to meet with friends, share a word and a smile, a cup of coffee and maybe a slice of homemade cake. The view from the GALE Centre continues to inspire me, as do the views I see in every direction. There is no limit to the beauty of the landscape or the kindness of the people. We are so truly, truly blessed.

Ailleas Designs will take me all over the north of Scotland in the months to come as we find ourselves nearing Christmas. Inverness, Castle Fraser, Torridon, and, of course, Aultbea and Gairloch will host festive events that will fill our hearts with the joy of the season. Weather permitting, this Christmas will find Caroline, Andy and my precious Catherine here for Christmas. What a joy that will be...and how wonderful to celebrate Christmas with a three-year old who will, no doubt, keep us all on our toes.

But first, a trip to see them this week as we await word from the US elections. Both Caroline and I still vote as we are still US citizens. We are praying that Wednesday will see the dawn of four more years of President Obama in the White House. I pray that the divisiveness and the polarisation of the country will finally stop. It may take getting a Democratic majority back in the Senate and House, but the US can't afford to continue under the current Congress; the majority of its members devoted to an agenda to cause the president to fail. What kind of American wants his or her president, regardless of who they voted for, to fail? That small-mindedness has to go. It has to go...

A recent visit from a much loved old college friend found us sitting down one night to watch "To Kill a Mockingbird". My friend had not seen the movie and we were all anxious for him to see it. As I watched, I realised how truly far we had come. But then I remembered the proudly racist declarations from some of the American electorate and realised how far we still have to go. And I thought of Gregory Peck, a lifelong Democrat, who would have found Obama's election a testament to the kind of tolerance and humanity he so exquisitely portrayed in Atticus Finch - perhaps the most noble man in all of literature. 

As I sit in my bothie by the loch and view the beautiful hills and spend time with warm and welcoming friends, I wish the whole world could experience the sense of peace and calm. But more than anything, I wish the country of my birth could experience it, too.  Maybe, God willing, it will.