Ten things to love about Scotland in autumn

  1. Dean Village/Edinburgh in autumn ©Maria Pakura

    Dean Village/Edinburgh in autumn ©Maria Pakura

    Even in the bigger cities, the play of leaves’ colours is stunningly beautiful, so that walks around become a sensual pleasure.

  2. There are less people around. Most huge festivals are over, typical tourists head to the warm South.
  3. Mulled wine gets back to the menues, and it’s such a pleasure to drink the first mug after a long walk through the fresh wind.
  4. After the barbecues and day outs of the summer, it’s now twice as nice to sit back in a pub and listen to open mic nights’ performers or storytellers.
  5. Be a child and dream. It’s possible virtually everywhere across the country as Scotland’s beauty is inspiration enough. But if you need one tiny push more, go to Pitlochry and visit the “Enchanted Forest”. The colourful illumination in the evenings alters the daily view.
  6. Samhain is ahead, and with it pagan traditions. Let this be  an impulse to learn more about the mystical side of Scotland, for example by attending herbal walks and diving into ancient wisdom.
  7. Seafood is so much better than during the warmer months now. Btw, did you know there’s a seafood trail between Arran and Mull? A breathtaking scenery meets amazing food, so don’t miss it!
  8. With the fall comes the theatre, concert and art season as well. There’s a intriguing exhibition in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, for example, till November 22th. Old photographies show the world and people of the Victorian era. #VictorianSensation
  9. I love the sea more than most things in the universe. And I’m into sailing. Nothing better than an autumn sail in Scotland to get the head free. I won’t be busy as it’s too cold and too windy for many, but we’re not sissies, are we? 🙂
  10. The Highlands. Are always beautiful. But never more beautiful than just right now. Don’t drive but walk through them, for half a day at least. It’s magical!

Halloween Special II: Spirit of the Harvest

Spirit of the Harvest ©Pakura

Spirit of the Harvest ©Pakura

I am. Alive. Awakened. I am at one with you, green. With you, leaves, I am at one. I can feel the breeze on my skin like you, and I bend, I won’t break. The sun caresses my cheek, tenderly, as I caress you, sweet fruit, juicy vegetable. I taste you, allow you to melt on my tongue, swallow your flavours, absorb them to my very inside, so you are also at one with me. The wonderful scents that tickle my nose, the colours that delight my eyes. How beautiful you are. How beautiful I am. Alive. Am I.

My sister who cools her feet, heated from the summer’s mugginess, in the babbling brooks and has to bear the whole power of the mighty sun has gone to sleep. But you, nature, are still awake, give me what your lap produced while I was away. Your countenance is different from that of our young sister who kisses the buds alive in spring. Your face has a more mature complexion, but it does not lack appeal. My skin shines golden in the sun which still makes head against milky fogs. And look, there’s a lonely butterfly. It does not know that soon my third sister will spread her white coat covering all this before you sink into a deep slumber, my beloved nature.

Spirit of the Harvest in the Grass ©Pakura

Spirit of the Harvest in the Grass ©Pakura

I’m sitting here in the grass, which is still lush and green. And I am pleased when I gaze at you, you golden spike. You cobs, corn you, you apple, potatoe you. They throw you carelessly into the pantry, the people, and transform you into fine food when it gets cold and the time freezes. But they don’t really look at you. Although your beauty is breathtaking. How perfect every grain sits in the cob, How even and smooth your skin feels, fruit, so soft and comforting. And bright yellow meets orange and red and brown and green, so much green. My heart jumps of joy when I look at you, when I feel you with my fingertips which are getting colder as dusk creeps to my feet.

I feel. You. And me, even. I feel my skin being sensitive as I rub over the rough surface of a trunk. I’m shivering and a frosting of fine hairs is covering my skin as soon as the evening breeze blows the leaves from my hair. I long to be in your warm arms now, but you’re not here. You do not see me. You can feel me, but you will not allow to feel what you don’t want to feel since it doesn’t match the rush of your life and how modern it is. Every time you feel that stitch, this pulling in the lowest part of your abdomen, when your heartbeat speeds up, when a twitch enters your mouth because a smile wants to push on your lips, you shake your head. “No,” you tend to say silently to yourself every time it happens, “this is not true. This is not logical. That’s- I am. I do exist and so do my desires. Nothing else.” And then you push me away, because you do not believe in me. Even though I am always with you. With every tick of the clock. In each pulse beat. Now, with this very exhale.

You do not believe. In spirits. Or this inner connection. I do not exist in your head, because you don’t want me to. And yet, I am. With you. Even now. Open your eyes, and you can see me. I’m with you, when the leaves rustle. I whisper to your ear when the wind pushes against your window and silently weeps. I crawl over your skin on your neck when the rain wets your face and the cold drops soak your warmth before they flow down and become at one with you. I am at one. Also with you. You can be at one with me, if you allow it. If you feel and taste and see and smell and hear. And think. Of me. The spirit of the harvest. I’m yours, and all this is also your fruit. They do not belong to anyone, and so do I, nonetheless we exist for everyone. I am at one with everything. But I do love you and only you. Even more than beautiful nature and my sisters. Because you are imperfect, but you do forget that fact. And because you’re afraid to feel more. But you are. At one. With me.

©Maria Pakura

Halloween Special: What I will do

A direful salute to you, dear reader. It’s Halloween, most obviously. People decorate their front gardens with Jack O’Lanterns and spooky ghosts. Kids have a perfect excuse to get perky and graze loads of sweets and candy. Admittedly I’m not so very much into the common celebrations, although I’m definitely the trick-or-treat-type; I prefer more demanding little games but, and I just play them with selected persons who have the mental ability to sustain my crazy ideas. *nowimagineanevilgrin* Anyway. In contrast to past year, I’m im Germany, not in Scotland. But horrible masks and ghostly guises in the streets are what we (have to) bear these days, no matter where we are.

It’s peculiar how it changed during the past years. In Germany anyway. I can remember sitting in an Americanesk milk bar in the 1990s, being a teen. My teenage friend Anne, half French, was with me, and we were the only persons in shroud, everyone was talking about us. Afterwards, we went to a cemetary in complete darkness – that was an adventure when you’re a teen in the 90s – and enjoyed the creeps that our imagination gave us, seeing weird figures behind every corner. Today, there are plenty of Halloween articles and even parties, most of them an excuse for adults to get perky and graze, well, loads of beers and cocktails and stuff. But it’s more or less a copy of what Americans do for generations. Halloween is an All-American feast, and Germany loves the commercialized form of spook.

Scotland has a different and much older tradition when it comes to Halloween. The celtic forerunner as it were is called Samhain, and many people – the Edinburgh Beltane Fire Society, for example – celebrate it even in modern times. It’s very mystic and has a completely different mood. The attention is directed to the nature and natural changes, that’s why natural religions such as Wicca usually feel a close link to the celebrations. Oversimplified it is about the battle between summer and winter, and winter wins every year – before summer wins on Beltane (30. April). In Edinburgh, for example, there are parades and stage combats. You can see the strangest figures then, and some of them are scary, but they are no vampires, zombies, monsters but symbols for storm, earthquakes, autumn, harvest, picts, spirits of ancient ancestors. I love the mood, it’s very essential, cabalistic, occult in an innocent and still strongly sensual way.

People who are interested in learning more about history of Samhain versus Halloween will find a lot of information online. That’s why I decided not to explain it all again. But what I will do is telling you two stories during the day. The first one will be an American one. Not American of heritage (it’s my crazed imagination rather), but having its source in the American idea of gothic romantic and ghosts. That’s the link to the classical Halloween. The second one will be a Celtic one with a different mood and a seductive natural spirit instead of ghosts and ghouls. Both will be illustrated with pics that were made of me this night and the coming morning, symbolizing a sinister lady first and a glowing spirit then. It was much work, so I hope you will enjoy that idea and leave some comments to let me know what the night before All Saints means to you. And now turn around, there is something waiting behind you, muahahahahahaaaa….

©Maria Pakura