We rolled into Scotland fresh off the boat (really -- we drove off of a ferry and onto the left hand side of the road) back in October. The autumn light was amazing. It made our snapshots look like photographs.
We decided that the hearty Highland Cows are maybe the coolest looking cows on the planet and that we like the sheep with the white fleece and black faces best. We yelled, "SHEEP!" and, "HORSES WITH COATS!" whenever we drove by, well, sheep or horses in their winter blankets. Later we just said it, not yelling. We started counting pheasant roadkill, but decided it wasn't really very challenging. We learned to carve turnips, and the differences between red squirrels and grey ones (aside from the obvious color!). We learned to ride the buses, and the rails. We drank hot tea at lunch. We made new friends and visited with old ones. We saw more of Scotland than many Scots will see in their entire lives. We made homemade tablet and mince pies, and sampled other local delicacies -- some I can recommend, others... not so much. We found words like 'bit' and 'wee' and 'brilliant' entering our vocabulary. We figured out how to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years without our own lifelong traditions to fall back on. We watched the snow fall for the first time of the season and pile up in our drive... and stay frozen there for months. It was the kids first time to see snow actually fall -- ever.
As it continued to snow, Spring started to exert itself as bulbs sprouted through the frozen ground and the grass greened again. Now the lambs are running around with the sheep and the horses no longer need their coats. The places that were new and thrilling when we arrived are familiar and comfortable now.
Six months is a long time for a Southern California family to winter through Scotland's coldest winter in years, but we're going to miss this place and the friends we've made. The taxi comes tomorrow at 7:45. The kids and I will drag our worldly possessions through train stations, pick up a car in Paris and drive to our new home in France. Right now I'm completely wiped out from packing and cleaning up the flat for the past two days. I've settled deep into the sofa with a celebratory glass of Rakija, luggage piled all around me. I have euros ready to replace the pounds, the train tickets are in my coat pocket, passports are in the backpack. Now I remember -- traveling!