Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Gathering and the First Days

Sunday morning broke rainy -- which makes one realize why everyone here carries an umbrella. I discovered that it is true that if you don't like Scottish weather, wait five minutes and it will change! Still, I headed out early for worship at the Canongate Kirk near Holyrood Palace. They were scheduled to have a Kirkin' of the Tartan, or so the Gathering schedule noted. It wasn't like any Kirkin' I had seen -- Extremely Low-Key is how I would describe it. We sang two hymns that I knew well, however, and it felt very familiar and comforting. One was Amazing Grace, which Highland Heartbeat had done the day before with the gathered audience.

After worship, the rain had stopped and it was off to Holyrood Park for more of the Gathering. I got there in time to see a presentation to the Clan Gunn leaders here of a gift from some of the Clan Gunn New Zealand, a presentation that included traditional Maori elements. It seems that one of the Clan Gunn had emigrated to New Zealand some years ago and had married a Maori woman. He had planned to attend the Gathering, but died before that could happen. This presentation was in memory of him. It was truly striking to see the cultures come face to face and know that the world is small and related in a web that we cannot fully perceive (and yes, there is a picture to come).

At 11:00, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers took the Music Stage. Dressed in black and red, these guys know how to rock. In fact, they call their music "bag-rock." Check them out! Standing in the rain was worth it to hear them play.

There were the Heavies competitions going on -- hammer throw, stone throw, caber toss, and all the good things like that -- on the main field. As much fun as it is to watch them, I was headed for something that I really wanted to do. Two of my favorite authors in the world were speaking that afternoon in the Scotland Lives tent. Diana Gabaldon (Outlander series) and Alexander McCall Smith (First Ladies' Detective Agency series and others) were scheduled one hour apart. I had found out only Sunday morning that online reservations had been required for these sessions, but that unticketed persons would be seated after all the ticketed ones were in. As long as the lines were, I was able to get it to both of them -- and was I ever glad I did! As I expected, each one was as delightful in person as they were in their writings, in completely different ways. I got my picture made with Diana, and yes, my Outlander friends, it will be posted.

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