This past weekend, we finally had the chance to experience my verra first Highland Games, thanks to some wonderful employees who helped cover the bar for us. I’ve been battling a cold, so it was a bit of a struggle to get out the door early enough for a full day. Still, we managed to squeeze in nearly five hours at the games themselves, and the fresh air seemed to do wonders for my allergy-induced cold.
If you don’t know already, I am unabashedly, profoundly, and deeply in love with Scotland. I love their weather, their vegetation, their food, their drinks, their accents, their fashion, and their wildlife. Scotland has always fascinated me, and the love affair blossomed when I visited in 2013. (More on that later.) And so, the Highland Games were satisfying in so many ways, from the haggis-flavored everything, to the throngs of kilted kin tossing, pulling, and pushing heavy objects everywhere.
For starters, I surprised myself and purchased absolutely no beer. Over the last few months, I’ve just kind of stopped drinking other than the occasional glass of wine, dram of whisky, or taste of new product at work. No ulterior motive, just haven’t been interested. So it wasn’t hard to keep sipping water while our friends drank pitchers in lieu of glasses full of tasty local brews. I did have a “wee nip” (can you tell I’ve been reading Outlander again?) of some delicious whisky, but that was it. Most importantly, I avoided any tempting treats (funnel cakes, fresh scones, strawberry tarts, etc, etc) and stayed on track with my wellness. Points to me, to be redeemed in this month’s Pathfinder update.
Onward to the festival itself! There were Scots (and honorary Scots) absolutely everywhere. Flags fluttered against the Florida breeze as the cheers from cabers and the drone of drums peppered the atmosphere with perfection. I’m as American as can be, but there’s just something about bagpipes that makes me feel like *I’m home.* Though it’s on my bucket list to either hug or cuddle a cow, the Highland cows were sadly out of reach – no doubt hiding from the pawing talons of squealing children they had encountered all weekend. Striking out with the cows, I moved on to the field to watch the sheepherding demonstration. One of the dogs was an unbelievable 16 years old, and I watched, with fond memories of mine, as the elderly dog had the time of his life bossing those poor sheep around. Those sheep, guys. They were so fluffy, but I felt terrible for them as they were pushed around the square field by these dogs. I imagine it must be a frustrating existence, when clearly the sheep only wanted to eat grass, pee, and drop some dope bleats.
Wandering past the sheep, I noted that there was a strength competition wherein you could pick up a really heavy rock and carry it a distance. I, needing no other motivation other than IT’S A BIG FUCKING ROCK AND YOU, TOO, COULD BE A BADASS, decided to sign up on a whim and was treated to the opportunity to carry a 94-pound natural stone around the field. I made it a respectable 367.8 feet, but ended up having to drop it due to dehydration and never carrying a giant fucking rock ever. Next year, I’d love to train for this and win (last year’s record was 910 feet; I bow to you, warrior woman!)
Lastly, I did manage to cross an item off my bucket list: axe-throwing! I didn’t have any expectations about my ability to throw an axe, but I found myself pleasantly surprised when I sank 5/6 shots. The last was certainly the best, and it seems the “picture the person you hate most in the world” method is pretty successful.
Overall, I had an amazing time reveling in the Scottish culture, and the Americanized variations. It was a “pear-fect” (that’s more dialect coming through) day full of love, laughter, and smiles – something few and far between some days. Maybe next time I’m having a rough week, I’ll just pick up a sharpened axe and hike up my kilt to battle my woes like our ancestors of old.