Grandpa’s Palace, Serbia
– Long story …

Growing up in England I was introduced to magical Scotland. 

America is the country of my birth but London was home and Scotland is where we went for holidays thanks to mother’s second hubby’s connections. In those days I had yet to see anything ugly. The worst had me in the backseat of a dark green Jaguar and building a wall of sweaters to demarcate a border separating me from my older sister.

Sometimes the stepfather lodged us in stark but cozy cottages with fireplaces in every room, and a bedroom with a crib with wooden upright bars in which I slept. Days we foraged shorelines, filling pockets with mollusks.

Seals basked on islets in lakes they call lochs, cattle have long chic coats and rambling hillocks are layered in purple heather.

Front-loaded with opulence as my life was, I saw only wonder. The ugly would creep in, but not for a long while, for which I’m grateful.

Other times we stayed in castles with moats. The ‘gardens’ were territories of intimate curation, from highly manicured walkways to creamy lawns and surrounding forests. And follies, grownup’s jokes, ideal for hiding Easter Eggs, and good for trysts. Whence the folly? The concept of a folly was wondrously mind-altering. With extreme civilization comes the need for play.

Whether cottage or castle my days were full of exploration, walks and daydreaming. The grounds, the gardens, the moors outdoors without walls were to be traipsed, and sometimes even Shetland ponies ridden, cantering recklessly alongside intrepid hounds.

Nighttime the grownups dressed in tartan sashes and swaths of velvet and precious pins of diamonds. The men tucked feathers in the fold of their knee-high socks. They wore kilts and swords in shiny hilts.

I espied them dance to the raucous sounds of spirited bagpipers, the jubilant guests pranced between the swords laid on the marble floors. 

Life is for love. Sweep the ugly into the darkness. Stay in the light and for heaven’s sake, look up!