I seem to have a habit of seeing some crazy things on my run, sometimes I wonder if I am becoming delusional from lack of oxygen/overheating/low blood sugar….and sometimes, if I am still chuckling/in disbelief/thinking of them after I get home I will tweet with #seenonmyrun just to share it with the twitterverse or anyone who may care!
Particularly memorable of late have been some reminders of home, specifically time spent in Scotland with my Granny and Grandpa while growing up. On Sunday during my long run I saw a random flowering thistle on Hines Drive – I don’t think you see too many of those around here…maybe I am wrong but this one stood out.
Then last night, I started my usual route and immediately heard the unmistakable sound of a quite accomplished bagpiper wafting through the air. This was a sound that often eminated from the Pier in Tighnabruaich, the small seaside village that my Grandparents lived in for all of my life and their retirement. It usually heralded one of the highlights of the week, the Waverley Paddle steamer coming to the rickety pier, which felt like it may collapse as the huge boat bumped against it (who knows when the last time it was inspected for safety was!)
We would often run down the hill to the pier to see the boat come in and all the “tourists” from Glasgow file off, down the pier, past the piper and make the mile walk to the village – many of them in great shock and disbelief that they had to make this trek and probably not entirely sure what was at the end of it! Some only made it to the Hotel (Scottish for pub/bar!) and may not have made it back onto the boat in time for its departure back to the city! Some days we would paddle the dinghy around the great paddle steamer, as if making an inspection of its outside, and on a few occasions we were allowed to board and go to the engine room – a hot and humid place that smelled of grease and contained huge pistons and valves and brass and glorious things for a child to stare at. These are fun memories, of times when we entertained ourselves in a place with not much going on but plenty to do! So you can imagine my surprise, as I heard this sound on the streets of Dearborn…..I wondered briefly if it was the phantom piper of AuchenLochan, a bagpiper so named by my Grandpa because he would bagpipe on his sailing boat (registered to nearby AuchenLochan) as he drifted through the channel between the Isles of Bute and Tighnabruaich, a view which could be clearly seen from my Grandparents dining room window. My Grandpa in particular liked to keep an eye on this channel, feigning frustration every time he had to turn from his seat at the head of the dining room table during a meal to confirm the type of a particular sailing boat (he knew them all, or so it seemed to me as a child!) He even made up a poem about this particular piper, which we had to recite in order to practice our Scottish –ch sounds (pronounced with a kind of deep throated k sound) – he wasn’t going to accept any “English” grandchildren! 😉
As I was wondering about the phantom piper, and whether he had moved to Dearborn…..the music got louder. Now, I have heard enough beginner bagpipers to know that this guy was a pro! As I rounded a corner I saw the source, a neighbor walking up and down his driveway playing his bagpipes! Like the phantom piper I suspect that his wife told him that there was NO WAY he was playing them in the house, the phantom piper took to the water….this neighbor took to his driveway!
As I ran by I had chills, which brings me to my other hashtag of late, #sentimentalinmyoldage. I have a desire to revisit this place where I spent so much time growing up, my Mum says it wouldn’t be the same and she is probably right! No sailing boat, no dinghy, the ice cream wouldn’t taste as good as you remembered, you are no longer ‘The Pickens Granddaughter visiting from England” just another tourist and it would probably be raining….it rains a lot, my Granny always disagreed on this point – until we finally decided that she must no longer notice it!
I hope that the piper is practicing again soon, and that I can savor those good memories just a little longer!