Friday, December 10, 2010

Hame is Auld Reekie

Argyle socks from Cabin Fever
Well, Auld Reekie (Edinburgh) is hame (home) to my brother and sister-in-law anyway. I think it must be the season - getting close to Christmas and all - but I have been thinking a lot about a time before children when my husband and I would go back to Scotland for Christmas to visit his family there.

I miss a lot about going back. First, I miss what was then an hour's drive over the moors from Prestwick (the airport) to Blantyre. It was always very early in the morning and usually there was a hoarfrost on the ground and the land looked like something from a long time ago. I miss too the row houses all made of stone, set on winding streets, that rolled like the moors; but what I miss most of all is the language.

Part dialect, part ancient tongue (Doric), it produced passages like:

"Here we go again, neen o’s ready for winter an nae jist the cooncil bit oorsels as we glower oot at a fite carpet o sna, stakes markin the hingin-luggit stems that the streen proodly held the last o the bonnie blooms. Procrastination be the thief o time."

I took this from a column written for an Aberdeen newspaper - Press and Journal. Click on the link - there's lots more - feed your inner Scot. Actually I was thrilled to come across this bit of journalism entitled Doric Column. Most sites gave translations of individual words and phrases; but Doric Column sounds just like my mother-in-law!

I have also spent some time lately on sites that translate classic Doric expressions such as:
Fair Isle Tam and Mitts from Catherine Vardy

It's a sair fecht fur a hauf loaf! - It's a hard fight or difficult struggle for very little.

A lot of greetin' fer a lit'l oo  - a lot of grief/crying for a little wool or a little remuneration.

Lang may yer lum reek! - long may your chimney smoke - may you have enough money to warm your house for a long time.

What does all this have to do with knitting? A lot, really.  Preserving old languages is a way of preserving history, a way of preserving life styles that may be fast disappearing. We are fortunate to-day in that a lot of young knitters have come along to carry on a tradition that was\is part of a charming older life style. Ironically the internet has helped to preserve and foster what might have disappeared. YouTube especially is great for instructions, for filming traditions and for recording how a language is actually spoken - the more things change the more they will now remain the same!
Felted Flock from Fiber Trends

Dinner? Something from Scotland and you are allowed to serve a salad with any of these.  I do remember asking my husband when we headed off to Blantyre to remind his mother that I would really like something green on my plate from time to time. I think it was a difficult concept for her, though, as she often served, two types of potatoes with dinner - one was the starch and the other was the veg. Or veg. might be butter beans (white) brought to life by soaking the dried beans overnight and then cooking them. It was all very delicious, though, I must say!


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