Monday, October 11, 2010

Highland Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Between reading Hebridean tales by Lillian Beckwith and inspired by  a wonderfully written blog by accomplished painter Caroline Simmill and this being Thanksgiving, the Scottish highlands have been with me all day! 

Two years ago I traveled to the north west coast of Scotland for the first time and spent Thanksgiving with my daughter in an extremely remote croft (did I mention remote?) off a one-track road and on top of the sea. 
 Of course, Thanksgiving is not a Scottish tradition, so no turkey to be found, never-mind a grocery store. I did manage a very very long and hilly hilly hike to the  ‘town’ that consisted of a post office, pub (of course) and a wee store with everything.

 I selected an assortment of food items and inquired as to where to book a taxi, as they would be too heavy to carry on the return marathon. The merchant gave me a quizzical look - (a taxi? out here?) Taking pity she kindly offered to deliver the goods in an hour or so. So in the company of curious sheep I climbed the hills ( mountains) back to the croft. This strenuous climbing is commonly called hill-walking…sounds so –un-strenuous- when put that way.

 Once inside I couldn’t wait to turn on the stove, make some hot tea and rummage around for some pots and pans in anticipation of our ‘Thanksgiving’ dinner. Unfortunately I had no idea how to work the stove, nor the coal fired Ray-burn (I think that’s the name). On top of that, I was beginning to wonder what had happened to the kind storekeeper who assured me she ‘knew the croft’. I reassured myself-after all there weren’t many crofts out here and she would find us eventually. Hours went by –my daughter figured out how to work the stove and managed to get some heat from the Ray-burn but we were hungry! Then we heard a quiet tap on the door. Our ‘neighbours’ (half an acre away) had received the groceries and kindly dropped them off. That Thanksgiving meal of fried ham and eggs -brilliant!

I have rarely  been so moved to paint as when I was amongst the raw and haunting scope of this world. Spiritually I felt a force well beyond the visually stunning splendor of mysterious mountains and sky. It cast a spell and I was compelled to return the following year.. hope to go again, but for now I am living it vicariously through the writings and paintings of others.

all paintings from SEALLADH SITHEIL SERIES, plein air, Jan Yates, SCA, acrylic on canvas



  1. Wow awesome Jan! thanks for the mention too! That looks very much like the area near Achiltibuie, Rhue maybe further on by Stac Polly. I need my map here! What a wonderful time you had Jan and you have captured the Scottish light so well it has a blue hue unlike Cornwall known for it's warm yellow light. Gosh you make me feel like setting out to Rhue to get that Rayburn lit in a wee highland croft as the sun goes down on Loch broom. Instead I have to go and tutor on a grey rainy day, boo! I can see your Scottish paintings there on the right of the page they are gorgeous!

  2. Achiltibuie- Badenscallie? (spelling)

    I was so proud of myself for navigating the expedition from here entirely online--taking trains and buses from Manchester..when we left from Ulla pool on a tiny bus we were the only passengers and the bus driver was so entertaining and helpful but astounded when I told him our destination! It was then that I thought--what have I gotten myself into??? That and my daughter rolling her eyes with that 'i told you so Mom' and nudging me..but that ride took my breath away and I absolutely fell in love--I don't know why but I have always responded to remote natural regions but it was the play of light and shadow on the hills and the sea--no wonder there are so many Scottish stories and tales inspired by this almost-untouched region!-I went to Ireland last year and although it was breathtaking I did not have the same response,although I did not have time to go to remote coastal areas.anyway you can see why I enjoy your work and your writings. btw your statement looks great and there is a post about CVs and resumes on Joanne Matera's blog--link on the right.

  3. Thank you Laura --I just had a look at your blog and those portraits of you are so powerful! The brushwork and colours to emphasize your emotion are so visceral