And Sir Walter Scott Lived Here: And Now For The Mechanical Chicken.

Our third day in Pitlochry,

land of the Grampians,

the Tummel river,

the Jacobite recreators,

who reenacted the day the troops of the Jacobite rebellion

climbed the mountain,

and rode down from Blair castle,

to jump

out of nowhere

onto the British royalists,

kilts and pipes skirling as they went,

(“the Royalists were indeed much surprised.”

the local salmon ladder-

about the only thing here that wasn’t Jacob’s,


we wandered down the street,

summoning every drop of Scots blood we had-

I knew from family legend I had about six drops of White McGregor blood-

from a distant great great and then some grandfather, who was a

Presbyterian preacher killed by the C of S for his fiery sermons,

and about 8 drops of Campbell blood-

through great great and then some nana Jenny Campbell,

who married an English Dunham,

of the Essex Dunhams

who were puritans

and founded the third or Essex colony,

and who was, of course, then discredited in the family.

And thus, so clothed in Highland pre-history,

(or is it Highlander?)

we made ourselves ready:

A trip to Hetties magnificent tea shop,

for a scone

and a strong-brewed Assam-Ceylon-Nilgiri-

a look at the local tartans-

even I knew you didn’t just put something like that on without asking permission

of those who fought for freedom,

and against the outlanders.

Then we checked the local heather gemstones,

made of pressed heather, and polished to a high shine,

they were guaranteed to ward off all forms of Brexit.

But, of course, being a citizen of a people across the water,

I felt it was truly like decking a Yankee rooster out as a scotch egg.

So we had another cuppa,

read the oracle-

the Scottish Daily Mail-

for advise,

and set out,

banners flying,

Korean gps navigator in hand,

to face that most blessed,

and most dreaded

of all creatures:

the Mechanical Chicken of Pitlochry.

Doer of dread deeds,

who was known to cackle in sheer delight,

as he stole the pennies

from the wee hands

of the local lads and lassies.

(All Scots reading this, mea maxima culpa)

The day was sunny as we set out,

marching our heavy hiking boots,

and heavier sou’wester

past the local young mothers

in beautiful court shoes,

and pushing posh prams.

(And a right nit we felt. But we never stopped to reconsider. For we were on a quest.)

But just then the sky rapidly began to cloud over,

and the court shoed fled for cover,

as we marched valiantly on,

past the large hotel with six Japanese tour buses parked in front,

and Japanese tourists intoning “hai, hai, hai” as we passed.

We waved, and assumed they were friendly as they passed on in the other direction,

headed toward the Blair distillery,

even though the Gutenberg word Hai

means “look out for the shark”

And finally,

after passing a laundry, several churches,

the police, fire department, library,

and the back entrance to one of the most gorgeous gardens we had ever seen,

the explorer garden,

planted with the fruits of Scots exploration in the rest of the world-

usually gathering seeds for the London gardens, ie Kew and co,

(bet you didn’t know the monkey puzzle tree was found by a Scotsman, did you?

Or that tea was introduced into England on threat of execution by the Chinese

by a Scotsman?

Why else was Scotty on Star Trek a Scot?)

we reached…..

as we could tell by the rushing sound-

of the high-speed hydroelectric turbines-

the fish ladder.

Where salmon gather to practice the forty-foot high pole jump-


get back to the breeding grounds they were spawned in,

so they can themselves spawn,

before being fished out and kippered

for tourists for breakfast,

or served fusion style in egg rolls,

or simply to show off,

silver skin flashing gorgeously,

and just a tiny bit extrovertedly,

in the sun

at the moment of extreme expenditure of fishy energy.

Just before landing in….

And then…

at that exact moment,

where the largest of the lead salmon flashed,

and landed,

we heard it.

Or rather didn’t,

when we should have…

The mechanical chicken of Pitlochry.

Final episode tomorrow.

copyright 2017

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Teacher, Musician, Composer, Conductor, Writer. Sometimes the one, sometimes all. Life is good.

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