Lily Loves Scotland
The iron key, heavy in her hand, slid easily into the ancient lock. Lily cocked her head heard it unlock, turned the knob and gave the wooden door a gentle push. Nothing happened. She leaned in and pushed with more authority. The door gave a loud slow squeal opening into the small stone cottage that used to belong to her Great Aunt Flora.
With her luggage in hand, Lily steps through the threshold into the past and her future.
The last time Lily stood in this sitting room she was six, preparing to return home to Canada after 3 months running wild in South Ayrshire Scotland. It was the year her mother died. Her father sent her to Straiton to stay with her mothers’ aunt while he finished his work in Egypt before settling into a new position at Brock University as Head of the Archeology Department. When she received word her aunt had died last winter her mind instantly returned to the last kiss and hug they shared, then through all the years in between that day and the day she held the letter in her hand.
Time hadn’t moved forward in the 20 years since she left. The room was exactly the same, except the fireplace was cold and an electric heater had been installed on the back wall.
It was late, she could re-acquaint herself with the rest of Rose Cottage tomorrow.
Lily woke to a crack of thunder; a flash of lightning and raindrops sliding down the bedroom window. She would get wet going into the village for groceries. Until then breakfast would consist of the 1/2 submarine sandwich she put in the fridge last night and the unused teabag she had in her purse.
During the 15-minute drive into Straiton, the rain stopped and the fulgent sun peeked out to brighten the day as she wound past lush pastures, grazing white sheep and rock fences. Rounding a particularly sharp corner she had a spectacular view of a stunning rainbow shining above Monument Hill. The countryside colours were brilliant. Her eyes couldn’t take in all of the shades of green in the grasses, trees and shrubs, or how the blues in the sky and sparkling in the river set off the rainbow like a jewelled setting. What a sight to see on her first outing.
In no time she was in the village scanning for parking. Lily had her choice of spots on Main street and parked close to both the fresh market and the pharmacy. Everything was within easy walking distance, her shopping wouldn’t take her long, she could begin the job of sorting through Aunt Flora’s things earlier than she thought.
The bell above the door jingled as she walked into the market. “Good Morning Miss, how may I help you?” asked the smiling clerk as she wiped her hands down the front of her Kelly-green apron and stepped away from the floral arrangements displayed in the front window.
“Hello, thank you, I am just picking up a few things. I may need some help finding some items, I have a list” Lily replied pulling the list out of her purse pocket.
“Here let me see what you need”, the clerk offered as she reached for Lily’s list. Lily followed the clerk to the back of the store where the clerk moved in behind the meat counter and selected the chicken, pork, ground beef and bacon Lily had listed. Each item deftly wrapped in butcher paper, tied with twine then handed to Lily who put them in the handbasket she had picked up by the cash register counter.
The clerk, looked down at the list then quickly but briefly glanced up at Lily and said, “You’re not from around here, are you? “I’m not being nosy, it’s your accent that gives you away”. She moved up and down the isles efficiently filling the basket with cans, jars, boxes, fresh fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee, bread, juice, butter, oil, garlic, basil, ginger tea and honey. Lily smiled, “Yes, you are right, I’m not. I’m Lily from Canada, I’m staying at Rose Cottage.” “Oh, you must be Flora’s niece from Calgary.” The clerk reached over and took Lily’s hand in hers ” Your Aunt, she spoke very highly of you. I am so sorry for your loss. She was well loved here and is very much missed – God rest her soul.” “I’m Heather and it is a pleasure to meet you Lily” She smiled again and continued to fill Lily’s shopping list.
As she collected the items and placed them in the basket, she showed each one to Lily who nodded her head in agreement. Picking up a package of tea Lily commented: “Everything is so different here, even the Tea”. Heather giggled, “Oh yes, everything is very different here in Scotland, I have a cousin who lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario she says the very same thing about Canada every time she comes to visit my Auntie” Gently taking the package of tea the clerk turns the container over and points to the manufacturer. “See this one, Wee Tea is grown right here in Scotland, it even won awards in Paris” “Imagine that tea from Scotland winning awards”. She was so happy and proud of the home-grown tea, Lily grinned “That is so awesome! I’ll try the one you have in your hand.” Heather’s smile stretched from ear to ear.
Wiping her hands on her apron she moved to the register with the basket “Well, that’s the lot. I’ll ring it up and see what the damage is”. As she tallies the purchases and puts everything into crisp paper bags Lily wanders over to the front window breathing in the heady scents of the various flowers on display. With a sense of accomplishment, Heather announces “There it is, a total of 50 pounds 30 pence”. Lily looking confused turns and walks back over to the counter, Embarrassed, she apologizes “I’m sorry I forgot to convert my Canadian money into Scottish money. Would you take Canadian cash?” Reaching under the counter and bringing out the calculator, Heather laughingly responds “Oh yes Lily, I will calculate the conversion and sell the Canadian money to my cousin the next time she visits”. “That works out to 85 dollars 40 cents Canadian. Is that OK with you?” Thank you, Heather, I will have to go into to Dalmellington and convert the rest of my cash – I appreciate you taking my Canadian money” “You are very welcome, it is my pleasure to help you out”.
She moves out from behind the counter hands Lily the two bags, picks up a small wrapped bouquet of jonquils pops it into one of the bags, reaches over and holds the door open for Lily, the bells jingling merrily. ‘Welcome to Straiton Lily – I do hope to see you again soon”. “Thank you for all your help this morning Heather, take care, see you soon.” Once outside the market Lily turns right down the sidewalk to the Pharmacy.
With her errands complete and ready to return to the cottage, Lily balancing two large fully stocked grocery bags, the aromatic bouquet of jonquils and a first aid kit inside a small handled shopping bag walks down the sidewalk toward her car. Twenty steps from her car, she is stopped her in her steps by the sweet scent of cinnamon buns wafting out of the Buck Tea Room. She can’t resist cinnamon. It is her favourite sweet spice. Five minutes later she is on her way back to the cottage with a cinnamon bun in a small bag.
Before she reaches the cottage, Lily pulls off the road at Tairlaw Linn, the Water of Girvan runs through the northwest corner of the Rose Cottage property. She was glad she wore her runners it will make it easier to walk down to the beautiful double waterfall. As she had done dozens of times during her Scottish summer Lily bends over and slides smoothly between the fence rails and follows the animal trail down from the road to the meadow and the stand of alders beside the river. The air cool and crisp after the rain is full of the scent of wet earth, leaves and thistle. She takes it all in, breathes deeply and listens to the laughter of the water as it tumbles over the edge and splashes into the pool below.
Lily’s Aunt Flora died while Lily was in Thailand teaching meditation. She didn’t learn of her Aunts death until she returned home and read the letter from her Aunts attorney, two months after Aunt Flora was buried. Flora had left everything she owned to Lily; a few stocks; a large nest egg; and Rose cottage, including the 12 acres of property it sat on. This waterfall was on that property. How many afternoons had she spent swimming in its deep pools before returning to the cottage for tea and sweets?
Sitting down on a fallen log Lily carefully pulls out and unwraps the still warm cinnamon bun. The icing generously slathered on the glaze is gooey, the glaze sticky in her fingers and palms. The bun is oh so delicious. Her mouth waters as she eats leaving her wanting more. It certainly makes up for the poor leftover sandwich she had earlier. Savouring the cinnamon and sugar she licks and sucks every morsel from her fingers then knees down to swish her hands clean in the bracing water. Too bad she couldn’t enjoy a quick dip today. Something to look forward to when she needed a break to clear her head. Returning to the car she allows herself to make plans to stop by again, next time with a bathing suit and a full picnic.
Back at Rose Cottage Lily unlocks the bright blue door and gives it a hard push picks up her groceries and once again steps into the home where she will discover the secrets of her past and the truth of her future.
1 – Globe – travel
2 – Scarab – death – funeral rites
3 – Flower – nature
4 – Abacus – ancient calculator
5 – Key – Access – secrets – truth
6 – Building – Cottage – Family
7 – Letter L – Lily – Linn
8 – Lightning Bolt –
9 – Rainbow? Waterfall?, River? (Wasn’t quite sure what the icon was)
Cheryle – January 2018