Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Burns Night here at Whitelees

Robert Burns, regarded as Scotland's national poet was born on the 25th of January 17, 1759.

Over 250 years on, his works are still widely used. Auld Lang Syne on New Year's Eve may be the most recognized

There is a celebration of the Scottish Bard's birthday each year, Burns Night. Drag out the good silver, brush aff the kilt and take the good sipping whiskey from it's hiding place.
We have a quiet celebration here at oor hoose. The vegetarians outnumber the meat eaters (me) so I boil up a vegetarian haggis along with the neeps (turnip or rutabaga) and tatties (potatoes).I had a particularly large turnip that took me ages to split in half. It was at this point that I feared my knife would be stuck. It reminded me of the countless times I've had a wedge stuck in the firewood I'm splitting. I did get the knife through the turnip eventually. I have a larger kitchen knife. I will use it the next time I'm splitting a monster like that one.

I had a little dram of whiskey on my own. The Man of the Place doesn't like the stuff and George wasn't interested.

There is a volume of the complete works of Rab Burns on the shelves. My own rendition of Ode to a Haggis is lamentable and did not wish to inflict it on the ears of my dear ones so the book stayed undisturbed during dinner. I read a few poems later by the fireside.

I visited his final resting place earlier in September when my dear friend Anne visited from the US. He is buried at St Michael's in Dumfries amongst a forest of great Victorian headstones. Initially stuck in a quiet corner as fitting his impoverished state, he was moved to a grander spot later and given a mausoleum. Anne is good at visiting, enjoying the ONLY dry weather we had all year. We had lunch at one of Mr Burn's favourite watering holes, The Globe Inn in Dumfries. Which is a quick walk from his final resting place. We ate in a beautiful and ancient oak paneled room.

As Rabbie Burns lived what were to be his final years in Dumfriesshire, you can't really move around here without bumping into a plaque or notice that he'd been there. Even our favourite chip shop in Annan has a notice stating that a poem was written within their walls.
Caerlaverock Castle, down on the coast has a bit of graffiti that may or may not be his. The year fits easily. I like to think a young, dark haired poet having a snoop about the ancient ruins and scratching his initials there.

The date is observed well in Scotland and by Scots the world over. The traditions vary from place to place and from country to country but a few things stand. Haggis is served, whiskey is drunk and poetry is read. My kind of celebration!! I have adopted Scotland as my home and will always observe Burns Night.

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