To liken the GMHG to a "step back in time" sounds cliché. But in the words of my old Grannie, it was "pert near" for me. My imagination if not my body, certainly time-travelled that weekend.
Grandfather Mountain itself , in all its summer lushness, evoked images of Scotland upon first sight,. The row of tartan-bedecked clan tents that encircled the athletic field, colorful flags and pennants waving in the high breezes, completed the setting. Early on I discovered, to my delight, that the Games are one event for which chilly dampness and grey skies can add to the authenticity.
Wherever and whenever I walked that weekend some mood-setting music was sure to walk with me, from fiddled Scottish folk ballads to upbeat Celtic reinventions. Then would come the rolling swells of King Bagpipes to fill my ears and evoke a rush of historical significance. I began to recognize the Pipes as a fitting symbol of the Scots and their descendants. Both entities prefer a big space wherein to exist free, display their abilities to full potential, and celebrate their proud heritage properly. Don't play the bagpipes in a closet and don't box a Scot in.
But on to the clothes…..
Encountering a nice-looking man in a kilt every three feet is no hardship. There is something inherently manly about the garment, and something distinctly romantic too, at least to a girl who blazed her way through "Outlander" in a weekend. If a male newcomer visits the Games with a bias against "skirt" wearing, his ignorant attitude is sure to be corrected by watching large, burly men in kilts tossing about heavy implements, like sheaf tossing, blacksmith hammers, and telephone poles (cabers) like they were bags of dry leaves.
On the feminine side, I was drooling over the period costumes before I even got to the main entrance upon arrival, and I expressed the common female lament: "Why don't we dress like that now?" Twenty degrees later, it made a bit more sense. I decided it was worth it, however, after stepping into an apparel tent for a closer perusal of these beautiful combinations of gowns, corsets, and chemises. Two hours later, I stepped out $700 poorer. Buy my closet is far richer, I tell myself without regret.
In the realm of Scottish cuisine, I chose to skip the Scotch egg. As for a properly addressed haggis ... well, I took several bites for the sake of experience, trying to turn off my taste buds and mentally erasing Google search results as to the dish's traditional ingredients. It wasn't bad. I washed it down with a dram of Scotch.
The sheep herding demonstrations carried their own unique fascination. I found myself wishing my dog back home could be just half as smart as the border collies working that small herd of sheep. I also gave thanks that my Beau is one tenth that energetic.
Sadly, Sunday had to come. No sooner had church services and the Kirkin' of the Tartan wrapped up, than I began to grow blue at the thought of returning to everyday life. I was soon consoled by the open-hearted hospitality and jovial company of Clan Forrester, who allowed me the honor of walking alongside them in the Parade of Tartans. They even shared a dram or town of their own Scotch to help dull the pain of a looming Monday.
Aye, but it was a bonny weekend indeed.
Rebecca Anthony (a first timer's view of all things Scottish)