Friday, September 07, 2007

I haven't indulged in hysterical novels for some time now, tending rather to various works of nonfiction such as Dawkins or Bryson.

A friend sent me Diana Gabaldon's _Outlander_, and I gave it a try.
I thought myself soft-headed for being a trifle transfixed.

It's a romp about a 1945 Army field surgical nurse transported to 17th century Scotland through a stone circle. At that, I'll never touch a one again. The damp, impoverished (economic and intellectual) misery of the times is not stinted. Of course there is a love story thereby, with many intriguing undercurrents, with a younger Highlander laddie.

As a mature woman who fell more than headlong for a modern Gordon Highlander, despite my best efforts, intentions, strategy and wishes, and as a trained, headstrong and more than occasionally scatterbrained healer type ending up in a place not of my choosing, but making it work, I see why my friend sent me the book.

Living here in Europe where I can stroll into our little town and touch 12th century tumbledown walls, and the aspect of my neighbors is something I'd only seen in the woodcuts of Durer, history is real.

A few minutes stroll from the front door of our massive yellow rented house are wheat and oat fields lined by double-track dirt roads. The trails lead up into the timber forests on the hills, lined with blackthorn, elder, and berry bushes. On a lucky day I have time to stroll and ponder, and perhaps bring home some mushrooms.

Reading the book brought me back to the too-short trip we took to Ayrshire on the coastal South of Scotland. We rode the train though rough fields of heather with its vivid dark greens and lavenders, and walked the fine sand coast barefoot to an old ruined castle. We still plan to visit the Highlands as well.

We also spent a long and delightful week in Ireland. This small island makes itself smaller by measuring speed in miles per hour, and distances in kilometers. Just driving there was a mad adventure! Ireland is also expensive, but the Euro is a bit more bearable. It felt like home... I've always leaned towards my Irish side, and found myself just fitting, there.

We still dream of walking Hadrian's wall. However, the Pound Sterling at worth twice the dollar, it's a financial sting we're not interested in bearing. Not this year, anyway!

When Chuck is walking again, if we can stay, then we can plan a trip. Otherwise we just wait for a while.

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