I’ve been in a Scottish mood lately – maybe it’s spring on Long Island that makes me feel like in the Highlands or on a Scottish isle. A few random occurrences have inspired me. I’m a fan of Paraclete Press and for the first time watched one of their online programs, which was a book launch for Iona: new and selected poems, by Kenneth Steven. I was so stirred by this program that I ended up buying the book, which came today! I read a few of the poems to Michael out on our front porch. Iona is one of those places I long to visit – it’s a small island in the Inner Hebrides, off the western coast of Scotland. It is mainly known for the Iona Abbey, the center of Gaelic monasticism, and the current site of spiritual retreats. It has been referred to as the birthplace of Celtic Christianity in Scotland.
I also recently enjoyed a short concert by Ed and Neil Perlman – Ed, a fiddle player, and his son Neil, a pianist, did a concert online of Scottish fiddle music, via the Portland Conservatory of Music’s Noonday Concert offerings, which I ordinarily attend in person at the First Parish Church on Thursdays at noon. These days the concerts are online – not quite the same, but still lovely to enjoy. Last season’s in person concert of Ed Perlman nudged me further in wanting to learn to play the violin (aka fiddle), which was one of the happy outcomes of living under the cloud of a pandemic.
Finally, recent visits to the Long Island Community Library pointed me in the direction of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, great favorites of Paula Johnson and Annie Donovan. I have heard a lot about this series of books, as well as the television series. I figured this was as good a time as any to finally see for myself what all the excitement is all about. Nancy Jordan also recommends the Ann Cleeves Shetland mysteries, another series, at the Long Island Community Library, that made it to the screen.
Our little island has a few Scottish ties, including an islander born in Scotland, islanders with family members living in Scotland, and a handful of last names starting with “Mac” or “Mc” (one of our Scottish-American islanders recently traveled to their ancestral home, on an island!).
I’ve only been to Scotland once. When I was in my 20s my mother and I took the train through England, including a few nights in Edinburgh, and a short visit to Inverness. So, until I can return again, I will be content to stroll the beaches of our wee bonny island, and enjoy Scottish poetry, music, and books.