For a day that began with exhaustion and dishes, I say that’s not a bad haul in the least.
I’m in Kinross with Kate. It seems like it’s been ages since I was in a real house–a place with paint on the walls and decorations, that is filled with warm and family, instead of damp and mold. I feel more warm and cared for than I have in a long time. It seems like any place with Kate in it has that effect on me.
As of 4 am, I had not yet packed for the Switzerland/Paris Christmas Extravaganza. While one could make the argument that I am not to blame for this–I was just waiting for my clothes to dry–one can as easily argue that if I had done my clothes earlier, they would have been dry and ready to pack. Also, spending hours on the phone with my parents and then Zack was definitely not helping my packing. Not to mention the six episodes of Dollhouse that I watched. Mostly, any exhaustion I experienced this morning at 8 am was entirely self-inflicted and I deserve no pity.
Packing, dishes, decisions–what do I do with Lori’s package? Do I mail it as is, and tell her how much extra it was? Do I break it into pieces? Do I buy snowboots before I get on the bus, or will my waterproof hiking boots suffice? How many socks do I need, really? How much clothing will I need, really?
I suspect I am somewhat overpacked–but I was cold while I was packing so I don’t blame myself. The little radiators in the flat don’t stand a chance against real cold.
I took the Megabus to Kinross, changing at Perth. Scotland is blanketed in snow, and as we drove into the hills we rose into a frozen mist. Sheep and trees and shaggy highland cows would occasionally appear out of the swirling clouds along the road before receding again. Groggy on five hours of sleep, I dozed as we crossed the frozen landscape, while trying to remain just alert enough to know when we arrived in Kinross.
Bus stops, I have decided, should be labeled in large letters, and announced on a sign before one arrives at the stop. After missing the first Kinross stop, I worried that I had missed my last chance to get off there. This was not the case, but still something that briefly worried me.
Kate was there to meet me. We went to Sainsbury’s to locate supplies for a Christmas potluck we were to attend in the evening. Kate was going to make sweet potato soup–I picked up supplies for pears and proscuitto.
After a walk through the snow that seemed longer for me lugging my duffel and my backpack, we arrived at Kate family’s home. It is beautiful, warm, and huge, with a grand garden. From the perspective of someone living very far from home in a very dark and cold country, it was paradise.
In particular the kitchen. After ditching our snowy shoes and winter accoutrements at the door, Kate introduced me to the kitchen of my dreams. It is large and bright, with a beautiful table for eating in. Best of all, they have an Aga–a ridiculous contraption that is always warm. It is a delight, a luxury in these days of energy efficiency. Kate dried her laundry atop it–I snuggled it for warmth. Kate made me tea, and we ate sandwiches, soup, and haggis flavored potato chips for lunch.
We chatted while I peeled sweet potatoes for the soup. As dusk descended on us, her parents, Maggie and Jim, returned home. Maggie sliced up some homemade gingerbread and plated pecan pralines and mince pies for our tea. We shared tea in the bright warm of the kitchen, chatting about Oklahoma and ethnography. Tea time is an excellent tradition and one that Americans would do well to adopt.
The gingerbread, delicious spread with butter (or butter-like substance), was the first attempt at a recipe Maggie had lost some time ago. Then she and Kate and Hazel had rediscovered the book from which the recipe came at the Tayside Recyclers. The book was in too poor a condition to purchase, but they photographed the gingerbread recipe for posterity. I am hoping to get a copy from them. I have been invited to come cook in their kitchen sometime–I am already stoked.
After tea, Kate offered me a bath, since she knows I have been pining for one.
It was the most epic bath of my entire life. The tub is glorious and deep, swirling with hot water. I commandeered the bathtub for an hour and a half, dozing in the warm and enjoying the plink of water rippling against the sides of the tub. It was deep enough to float in. I washed my hair and concluded that I am at least a portion mermaid.
After my epic bath, Kate put together some guacamole for the party while I wrapped pear halves in proscuitto. Hazel was home from work by this time, finishing up her supper with her parents. All of the Saundersons are very beautiful girls.
The party was delightful–one of Kate’s friends was hosting it, and we will be staying overnight. The friend’s father greated me with a handshake and a kiss. The last part confused me considerably–I’ve never greeted someone that way on first meeting. He noticed my confusion and said that I was lucky we weren’t in Portugal–they give kisses on both cheeks. There is an essay in there somewhere, about standard greetings and how my multicultural living situation has completely borked them beyond reason. He was a delightful gentleman, however–very funny. He served us homemade raspberry vodka and made jokes while we set up the potluck and nibbled surrepticiously.
I have retired early from the party, delightful though it was–tomorrow I travel to Edinburgh, though when and how have yet to be determined. Really I would be quite satisfied simply buying a winter coat and hunkering down in a hotel for the night. My flight leaves early on Christmas Eve–I would like to be well rested before facing another airport.
For now, though, I am warm, well-fed, and happy. Life is good.