Radio Diaries: Home to the Highlands

Aug 11, 2017

As soon as I got off the plane in Glasgow, Scotland, I felt at home—although I’d never been there.  The ruddy, angular faces and thick accents seemed familiar somehow.

Half Scottish on my mother’s side, I yearned to know this place my grandfather had left and longed for.  So when I finished college, I accepted an invitation to visit my friend, Betty, who was spending the summer in the highlands.

Betty was waitressing at the Olgivie Arms Hotel but I couldn’t afford a room there, so slept in a tent provided by her boyfriend, Jock McBride—the red-bearded, blue-eyed Pony-Man who had stolen her heart and could have had mine for the asking.

The next morning, Jock took a group of us pony-trekking and as we rode up into the rugged mountains—the mist lifting and the sheep calling—I knew I belonged to this lovely, melancholy landscape.  To this ancient country with its defeats and defiance echoing down the valleys like the wail of bagpipes.

Stopping for lunch, we unsaddled the horses and stretched out in the sun.  Jock passed around a pint of whisky and grinned at me.  “Enjaying yersilf, Karr’n?” he asked.

“Oh, yes.  Och, aye.”