”Do you have Celtic blood?” he asked.
What is Celtic blood? Does it differ from Canadian, Croatian or African blood? I wasn’t born in the Scottish highlands but in Aberdeen the heart of the Calvinistic northeast. It is the aquamarine seas of Mull that floats into my mind’s eye.
In June, Clive and I spent a week on the island of Mull on the west coast of Scotland. On our first night in Salen, serenaded by the urgent calls of oystercatchers with not a midge in sight, I walked down by the pier on a carpet of pink thrift. I remembered the good times I, as a teenager, spent with my older sister Ruth who left this world prematurely in 1999. She taught in the two-teacher village school for a few years in the seventies. Almost fifty years ago she and I hung out the train window as wind blasted through our hair, as we sped past Loch Lubnaig, collected multicoloured shells on the deserted beaches, walked under the ancient oak trees, on the orange bladder wrack, cut peat, licked pork chop juices off her frying pan, sang Petula Clark’s hit song “down town” as we shopped in village grocery store that smelled of soap, and sang Scottish songs as we walked miles over hill and moor.
After a long sleep we had a sunny bike ride over the moors to the south coast where we walked along a narrow track beside lapping waves, through the marsh, bog myrtle, honeysuckle, glossy silverweed, familiar smells of childhood, feral goats, a herd of deer, to the dramatic basalt columns, the Carsaig Arches, eroded by the constant motion of the sea.