There's a Place In Our Hearts for the Old Sod

I moved out east with my girlfriend (prior to her current stint as The Lovely Wife) in 1999, after a brief stint in Toronto. We were classmates in grad school. We met on the first day. I thought she was with this other guy who she happened to know from "back home" and who, along with his wife, is now the equivalent of our family's BFF. But that's not the point. The point is this....

My father had a funny feeling that after going to the east coast, I would never return “home” again. So far, he's been right.

So we finished our school, packed up most of what we owned into a 1993 Civic hatchback, and headed east. Going west wasn't totally out of the question, but staying in Toronto was definitely not an option, and I from what I knew of Halifax, it seemed like a pretty good place to live (if you could find a job, which most people told me was near impossible). But I'm getting off track again...

My father somehow knew the sea and the call of Maritimes would get me down to my blood. I don’t know if I agreed in my heart with this assertion, but I knew I felt comfortable enough to call this place “home”* and in no time flat, I was trading my hiking boots for topsiders and learning to sail.

A few years earlier, I had gone on a two-week tour of Scotland. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, other than a good time and a few pints of fine ale (which I found). But something in the area called to me. It felt natural to be there. Like home, with funny accents. Mind you, I wasn’t living in coastal eastern Canada back then; I was a pure-bred prairie boy, used to being surrounded by nothing but the far away horizon and big, big sky. But there was something about Scotland. Note: this also predates my affinity for a fine Single Malt Scotch, though we did tour one distillery while over there and I drank both sample drams willingly.

Scotland seemed like home. I was comfortable there. The hills, the fog, the close-to-the-sea living was something I could just see myself doing. Little did I know I would meet a girl who'd bring me home to Nova Scotia and it would be like déjà vu.

Some time after moving to the coast, I became earnestly involved in looking up my own family history, eventually getting back in my paternal lineage to the late 1700s in Scotland**. And some credence was lent to my hunches; back in the day, the family was Scottish. Special thanks go out to the Mormons for this, as without their frighteningly thorough recordkeeping habits, I wouldn't have had information back beyond my grandfather's era. Eventually, it began to really register with me: Scotland really was like another home for me (granted, a home I never knew and never lived in, but you get the gist).

Not long ago there was a time in which it was fashionable to be from the Isles (think Mike Myers, or those silly drunks you see every March 17th). I always got a particularly good laugh out of those mimicking the Scottish accent. Braveheart and the oppressed clans, the tradition of whisky (As I said, I didn’t learn to drink Scotch in Scotland), and talk around what’s really worn under a kilt seems to crop up in everyday life. To me, it seemed silly to have this vague notion of my family being either Irish or Scottish (even the living family wasn't sure where our roots were), but to find some evidence of my ancestors in Scotland was quite meaningful to me. I haven’t rushed out and ordered 8 yards of tartan or anything, but I have a better appreciation of the life and customs of those who lived close to the sea, partially owing to my current surroundings, and partly due to generations of ancestors I'd never know.

Kinda makes me want to go back again. And, knowing that TLW's family is also from Scotland, and not far from my apparent roots, makes it that much more tempting. Maybe I'll wait till the boys can join me in a dram on the distillery tours (and perhaps pick their old man up of the floor and take him home.)

Perhaps my father was right. Maybe the pipes and the fiddles did call to me, stirring something in my blood that I didn’t know was deep inside me. Dad was a smart man.

Yes, that is me. Yes, that was taken in Scotland. And yes, that was a long time ago

*Around here, you can be a resident of the area for 30 years and still be considered a “com- from-away”. So let me lay it on the line: Just because I can call this place home, doesn’t mean I expect the Maritimers to consider me one of their own. Nor does it bother me if they don’t.

**This topic alone probably needs its own blog, but I imagine nobody would read genealogy blogs.

Note: The title of this post is from a Spirit of the West song, "The Old Sod"

Day 7

Posted bythemikestand at 7:15 AM  

7 stepped up to the mike:

Sassy said... 12:44 PM, November 07, 2006  

Oooh, such pretty hair you have. :)

sween said... 12:49 PM, November 07, 2006  

I didn't know you were in Poison!

SRH said... 1:37 PM, November 07, 2006  

Very Gunnar Nelson of you.

FrozenExtremities said... 2:43 PM, November 07, 2006  

I was thinks more along the lines of Vince Neil.

canadian sadie said... 2:45 PM, November 07, 2006  

I'm also a 'come-from-away' and I know exactly how you feel about this lovely sea-side village.

An old flame's mother once told me that: "the rocks get in your blood". It was kinder than saying "You've got rocks in your head if you're planning to stay here forever!" God bless 'er!

themikestand said... 3:53 PM, November 07, 2006  

I did have pretty hair, dammit.

Tanya said... 1:54 PM, November 09, 2006  

I'm picturing the Mike that I know with hair like the Mike of the past...and it's making me laugh.

Post a Comment