I panicked.When I got to the train station I bought a ticket for two hours later than the one I planned on taking.I didn't want to leave.No Indeed.The trip was amazing, magnificent and one in a lifetime.I said I was ready to let it become a memory, but it was a lie.Instead I checked my bag and went up to the grassy pad above the station and stood in the Scottish rain for the last time.Down on the corner was a bagpiper playing while loads of tourists swarmed him for a picture.Poor guy, but it does bring in some extra change.With the economy these days, you do what have to do.And so it was time for me to go and "do what I had to do," too: head back to work.I will always cherish this memory and all I experienced.I will miss Scotland, but more importantly - it'll miss me.Ha!That's okay, I left a bit 'o me across the country: blood spilled from getting two ticks and a million midgie bites while camping; dropped my underwater camera bag on the Northern coast somewhere (NOT happy about that); and Norm dropped his left shoe on the train (I think) coming down to Edinburgh.AND I'll be taking plenty of stuff with me (mostly mailed back home) like the security device left on one of my rugby shirts by the gift shop lady.Doh!No idea how I'm going to get that off without spewing ink everywhere.I discovered it after the train left the station.Lame.I might have caught it in time had I not been running around the station like a bat out of hell.
So I go to get my back from the "Left Luggage" guys, and the lady in front of me didn't have her checkout ticket.Of course it wasn't her fault… her husband took it with him on another train to a different city.Get a grip, lady.If she wasn't being so uppity and nasty about it, I might have felt a bit sorry for her.But the longer it took, the closer it got to my train departure.As much as I didn't want to leave Scotland, I didn't want to have to buy another ticket at about 40 pounds a pop.That's about $61 for those who don't know how to convert the currency.The one thing I will not miss is how stinkin' expensive it is here!Thank goodness I stayed in hostels the whole time.Anyway, so I finally get my bags and rush to my train stance, hopping on about 3 minutes before lift off.A minute and a half goes by and I realize I'm on the wrong train.I was off that train faster than a prom dress on… you get the point.Phew!Now I had to go find the right one.As I was flying off the train, some lady yells to me, "good luck!"Thanks."Cheers" to you, too, lady.Wildly looking around for an information screen, I located the right train and shoved my ticket into the usher's face, "Is this the right ticket for this train?!"Crazy American tourist… I settled in relieved."Chug, Chug, Chug…." "What's this on my shirt??"Security device.AAAHH!!Too late.We were on our way towards the borders between Scotland and England.
Breabach, one of my favorite Scottish folk bands, sings a song called "The Rolling Hills."I repeated it over and over on our way down.Part of it goes:
Well I've travelled far
And I've wandered wide
I've seen the hot sun and the cloud
I've been courted by Loch Lomond's site
But I dearly 'luve' the borders
When I die
Bury me low
Where I can hear
The bonnie tweed flow
A sweeter place
I'll never know
Than the rolling hills 'o the borders
'Tis true… "A sweeter place I'll never know, than the rolling hills 'o the borders."
Travelling through the lowlands, cows and sheep grazed the open pastures as young calf and lamb took suck or fed beside them. From a distance, the white puffs of sheep looked like marshmallows pluming from the wide spans of green.Whereas the ominous mammoths of Glencoe highlands instill confidence with their presence, the rolling border hills sing of air, space and vision.Lone houses stand as stewards over the land that surrounds them, divided by large oak trees and rivers.Not far from the train, a farm of pines blankets a hill rising above travelers who tow trailers along its base. But as inviting as the pastures and hills are to walk across, I know from experience there are boggy tufts all throughout.Nonetheless, I'm already missing them.I am missing being humbled by their treachery.Like surfing in the ocean, you can't force yourself upon this land.Instead you are required to move with it… to respect it… to honor it.A new friend I met here says the highlands and lowlands engender a special, spiritual feeling.This land is more than just history.The spirit here inspires finding something worth fighting for.Under a grove of trees lies a simple cemetery grounds where moss and age hint the tops of tombstones.Unwritten on their faces is a haunt saying, "Don't let me die in vain."A handful of leaves are already turning orange as the trees step into autumn. As the train zips by their ranks, purple heather flowers waive goodbye in the wind.Standing out brilliantly against the gray background of a rainy Scotland sky, they glow almost pink.Their green stalks grow from aging stones placed there centuries before and, God-willing, will stand there for centuries more to come.
This has all been a dream-come-true.Luck?There's no luck here.It's a magnificent manifestation of my God's mercy.I've learned much about myself - and life in general - on this journey.There were many difficult and frustrating times, but without those, the good times wouldn't have become great times. Such a full memory I'll have with me forever. For that I am grateful.