Craig Allen Heath
Fine Scottish Days
"Fine Scottish day" I say, leading Coco by the leash down the muddy lane to the dog park.
"Aye, 'tis that" Pat replies.
January in Eugene, Oregon is not too far removed, weather-wise, from August in Scotland. After a month here, we're acclimating to the gray days and quick changes, the sky opening for five minutes of dazzling blue then darkening for a few minutes of drizzle and back again.
Our visit to Scotland for the summer festival in 2016 gave us a glimpse of weather we would prefer, and now we have it - cool when cloudy but the air full of living water, so different from the dry, warm air of California. Bone-cold when the night is clear, but bright days and crackling skies, clear of the detritus of the farm valley we left, the smoke of burning rice fields and dead orchards and the dust kicked up by the massive machines turning the air a light tint of ochre.
We've traded dust for mud; any square foot of our foster city that isn't paved is near black and glistening mire. The dog park - three large meadows gifted to the community by the Wayne Morse family - is a sea of mud and tufts of hearty grass surrounded by sodden walking tracks. I've ruined one pair of good leather hiking shoes and vow to buy a set of muck boots every day at the park. Oregonians wear the rubber overshoes everywhere and with everything - a fashion statement as much as a practical choice.
Only a month has passed in this place, but already I feel myself turning, longing for more of the cool, moist air in my lungs, even if I have to scrape liquid earth from every pair of footwear after every simple walk. I knew from our visit to Edinburgh, Inverness and Loch Lomand that I needed to breath a cleaner atmosphere, that I needed cooler temperatures (with age, refrigeration is a valuable preservative), and that I craved breaths containing the scent and molecules of rain.
Now we have all that, along with the mud. It's a gift, an unexpected gift somewhat forced on us by circumstance, but we're living in an atmosphere like that we enjoyed those few years ago and many miles away.
Each fine Scottish day seems better than the one before.