Daniel's Esperanza

Daniel's Esperanza

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Caledonia

Flying over Edinburgh Castle
Historically, the word “Caledonia” is the Latin name given to northern Britain when Britannia was occupied by the Roman Empire; poetically, it is the name used when referring to Scotland. When Scottish singer and songwriter Dougie MacLean became homesick for his native country in 1977, he wrote a folk ballad expressing the depth of his love for the place of his birth. His Caledonia has been covered by many artists over the years, but I think the most beautiful version is his own.  It is widely recognized, often by many, as the unofficial anthem of the country. 
When I visited Edinburgh a few months ago, my husband and I enjoyed a couple of day tours from the city.  One took us into the Highlands and it was a long day but worth every hour of the journey.  Our guide was informative, witty and eager to share a great deal of knowledge not only about what we were seeing, but also about the music of Scottish artists.  We listened to many singers, including MacLean, which accompanied our views of the beautiful Scottish scenery.  All were interspersed with the rich history of Caledonia, and it was easy to see and understand why there is love and pride for such a wonderful place.
 While there were many highlights on that particular day, seeing Ardverikie Castle on the shore of Loch Laggan, and being able to photograph and interact with some Highland cattle (or “hairy coos” to the locals) were pretty special to me.  Ardverike, by the way, was the estate used as the fictional “Glenbogle” in the BBC series Monarch of the Glen, which ran from 2000-2005.  Being a “boglie”, it was interesting to learn there are six cottages on the grounds for vacation and holiday rentals.  Perhaps that will go on the bucket list for next time. 
Edinburgh
As some of my ancestral ties are in Scotland, I like to think that’s the reason I’m drawn to it.  The history of the Jacobites and all of those Kings named James appeal to me.  And Ben Nevis, Fort William, Rob Roy, Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Alexander Graham Bell.  The telephone, television, penicillin, radar, lawn mower, toaster, refrigerator, criminal fingerprinting…all due to Scottish inventors. The list is long; the history extensive.
I’ve enjoyed many Burns Night suppers, Highland Games, and The Feast of the Haggis events (even though I always extend the haggis to my husband in exchange for his scotch).  A Scottish character plays prominently in my latest manuscript which is out with agents right now; a fictional male lead with ties to Caledonia will be featured in the next one that I’m currently researching.  It seems writers wish to tell stories with a Caledonian plot, and readers enjoy being taken on that fictional journey.  There is something mystical about the place. 
Another bucket list visit for me will be seeing the ruins of (New) Slains Castle on Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire (between Aberdeen and Peterhead), built after 1597 and rebuilt in the early nineteenth century.  It reportedly was Bram Stoker’s inspiration when he wrote Dracula; it was also part of the historical fiction of The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  Its location was just a little too far north for us to make this last visit.
Finally, as for MacLean’s Caledonia, I agree with a reviewer that said, “One of the best songs ever written to express love for a person’s home nation…”  The lyrics follow below. It, along with many of his other songs including Some Hearts, Weather Eye, Loving One, The Gift (Fly Away), and Feel So Near, can be found on iTunes.

Caledonia

I don’t know if you can see the changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid that I might drift away
So I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs, that make me think about where I come from
That’s the reason why I seem so far away today

Let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me and now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger you know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

I have moved and I’ve kept on moving, proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing, found others on the way
I have tried and I’ve kept on trying, stolen dreams, yes there’s no denying
I have traveled hard sometimes with conscience flying somewhere in the wind

Let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me and now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger you know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Now I’m sitting here before the fire, the empty room the forest choir
The flames that couldn’t get any higher they’ve withered now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking, my way is clear and I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands have shaken and the kisses flow then I will disappear

Let me tell you that I love you and I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me and now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger you know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had


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