I enjoyed a peaceful interlude this afternoon, quite by accident. As if taking a walk or a drive, one good turn led to another. I realize that the phrase is usually applied to good deeds. My good deed of the day will be sharing my discoveries.
I'm still learning about all things Scottish and it is a fascinating journey. I recently ordered a book by Scottish photographer Andy Hall. In his long and illustrious career, Hall has published some highly-acclaimed photo essays about Scotland. The book I just received, "Scotland's Still Life," is filled with spectacular photos of Scotland and excerpts from Scottish literature. I saw images I had never imagined and read passages I didn't know existed. Books are lovely like that. I was so thrilled with the book that I just had to check out Mr. Hall's website. That's where I found a video presentation featuring photos and excerpts from Hall's book and music from Duncan Chisolm. You can view it on the website or go to YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO2uFQCsfK8
The music was so beautiful that I wanted to find out more about Duncan Chisolm. I learned that he's a talented, popular Scottish folk musician who has produced extraordinary music. His Strathglass Trilogy -- Farrar, Canaich, and Affric, is an award-winning musical series evoking the historic lands of Clan Chisolm. The creation of the three albums was a personal journey for the artist. Since Glen Affric just happens to be where my work-in-progress opens, of course I checked it out. It's been a while since I listened to music while writing, but I guess now I've found the perfect accompaniment.
Continuing my journey, I found that Chisolm had joined in composer Craig Armstrong's premiere of "Ballantyne," a Gaelic psalm. Craig Armstrong is well-known for such musical scores as "Moulin Rouge" and "The Great Gatsby." But what's a Gaelic psalm? It's a psalm sung in Gaelic. It's a lovely and old Highland tradition.
Today's exploration had to end there. I have to say, it was great!
Actually, this blog belongs on the all-time favorites list. Clotilde Dusoulier, a French food writer based in Paris, started her blog "Chocolate and Zucchini" way back in 2003 and it is fabulous. It's published in English as well as in French, so take your pick. She offers recipes and resources, blogs about food, travel, cooking with kids. She has two children of her own, so she writes from personal experience.
She's written several books. Her latest, Edible French, received rave reviews and made Oprah's list, "The Best Cookbooks of Summer 2013."
As for her blog, I just love it! Her English is flawless and modern. She lived in California for a couple of years. I was just glancing through her "top ten reader favorites" posts. Among them are "58 Ways to Use Your Cucumbers", a tutorial for "Homemade Cloth Napkins", and a recipe for "French Scalloped Potatoes." Personally, I'm going to try her recipe for "Feta and Fresh Herb Quick Break" asap! chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes
If you haven't already, be sure to check out Chocolate and Zucchini. You'll be glad you did!
What do you think about August?
In 45 B.C., the Romans officially established the Julian calendar, naming this particular month after Augustus Caesar, son of Julius and founder of the Roman Empire. Many centuries later, Pope Gregory improved it a bit. Today, the modified version, called the Gregorian or Western calendar, is used by most countries for at least business purposes. There are many countries that use a more traditional or religious calendar in addition to the Gregorian (for example, the Chinese) and a few that may never adopt it.
Depending upon the calendar in question, August may or may not be the eight month of the year. Depending upon the society, it could be a time of celebration and harvest or a time of mourning and fasting. In the Hebrew calendar, Av is the fifth and saddest month, recalling Aaron's death and the destruction of both temples, amongst several other incidences.
While doing research for my current writing project, I learned that for the ancient Celts, August or Lunastal was a time of celebration and harvest and of the pagan god Lugh.
For some, it is high summer. For others, it is the beginning of fall. In fact, the traditional Japanese word for August, Hachigatsu, means "time of falling leaves." I imagine that for school children, with or without the equinox, the beginning of the school year marks the end of summer. For those who start back in August, it might well be a month of mourning, no matter their religious background!
The Catholic Church celebrates a major feast, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Orthodox Church observes the Feast of Dormition. There are many other religious and cultural celebrations in August, not to mention personal ones.
That's why it makes me rather sad when I see someone for whom all the days are the same, who never notices a difference until holiday decorations are impossible to ignore. We cannot halt the passing of time, so why not try to make the most of it, squeeze the best from every day, month, and season? If that seems impossible, remember that such times and feelings will also pass.
There is a season for everything, a time for every purpose under the heavens. -- Ecclesiastes 3:1
Wherever you are and whatever your traditions, I wish you a wonderful August!
Surely, the past, present, and future connect in this miraculous state we call life. In this light, history and all human experience are ever-present. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we could enjoy each other, if we could appreciate and celebrate our differences? Let us love! Let us have fun. Let us toast each other and wish each other well. Now, in our awareness, is the time to be happy, to do our best, to live fully to our purest, highest standards.