Le Meas, Mo Charaid

One of the Last of the Goods Ones Moves On

One of my teachers passed on Sunday. It was right after breakfast. I stood by the backdoor, looking into the woods, and felt him cross over.

“Calum’s gone.”

Back in the 1990s I studied with two Celtic Teachers, Pahdeval and Da Fischer. They’d taken me as far as they could. Several hundred miles separated them and almost to the day they both told me I had to learn Gaelic – Scots Gaelic – to continue my studies because am Beurlad (Modern English) doesn’t support the concepts I studied with them.

Easy decision. Learn Gaelic. Could they teach me?

Yes, and there was another I had to study with, Calum Crùbach. In Alba Nuadh (Nova Scotia).

That’s a fairly big place. Where, specifically?

Falbh agus fios aige (Go and he’ll know).

Susan and I enrolled in a Gaelic summer school up there, an anniversary present to ourselves. We made lots of friends. One fellow, Malcolm, always seemed to be around. His humor was dry and infectious. He’d tell you a story straightfaced then burst out laughing when you caught on to the joke. He was a bawdy gentleman; courteous, gracious, considerate, always helpful, and would openly stare at a woman’s chest as if nothing else mattered.

It was a wonderful time and, as graduation approached, I had tshirts made up for the class, something to remember each other by.

I wasn’t sure of my Gaelic and he had a thick accent although he wasn’t teaching (he was studying pìob mhòr – traditional bagpiping). I asked him to help with my translations.

Happy to. He came up with a few translations that made advanced students laugh and blush. I asked Malcolm to translate “Don’t know the words, don’t know the language, gonna wing it.”

One teacher, a Scottish School M’arm if ever there was one (she was a Presbyterian minister’s wife and it showed. A lot), read one of the translations and walked away, shaking her head. “That’s not what it says, not at all at all at all.”

Tapadh Leibh, Malcolm (Thank you, Malcolm).

That’s when he corrected me. “Calum.”

Gaelic curses are a riot. Learn them. And be careful. They look a lot like harmless sayings…
…unless you know the people, the culture, the Way of Ocean and Earth.

 
Calum came from the Outer Isles and a line of Celtic StoryTellers. He had a tale for everything. Teaching stories, thinking stories, growing stories. Lore.

He asked me to help him translate fairy tales into a colinear Gaelic-am Beurlad to keep the language alive. He did it to teach me, more than anything else. To get me use to the rhythms, the meanings. The why of the Celts and Gaels, what cultural anthropologists know as the ceremony versus the ritual.

He taught me the traditions (fios agam) behind Scotch (if you think it’s just for drinking or celebrating, you…have studied differently than I have), the myths and not-myths of the Celts and Gaels. He taught me to sing the waulks, to summon the seas and quiet the earths.

He taught me how to see through the present to the past, into the deep past, and to respect the Old Ones of the Isles for choosing to reveal themselves to me and not to others.

He told me my name.

And he’s moved on.

Stad gu math, a’ Chalium.

Le Meas,
Eois

Shane and Tyler

It takes little for a child’s heart to fly. Mine, too.

Today would be a good day to fly kites. One of my favorite flying spots is a city park two towns away. It has a huge, gently sloping field that amplifies west-to-east winds. Stand at the bottom and it’s refreshing. Stand at the top and it’s noticable. Today the breeze rustled the treetops and made the leaves chatter. A breeze like this makes it easy to get my kites aloft.

The downside is that everybody uses the park. The city built ballfields and a playground on the other side of the parking lot and a big gazebo in the middle of the kite flying field. A friend caught one of my kites’ lines in the gazebo’s roof once and it took some good flying to get it free.

I could hear the cheers and catcalls from people in the ballfields – must have been some exciting games going on – and laughter and chatter from families on the playground. Lots of people but not many cars. People must have parked on the far side of the ballfields.

An empty parking lot is one of the things I look for, a good sign, it means the field will be open, plenty of room to run out my lines and fly a kite or two between the gazebo and the street. I’d already chosen my SkyDancer as the kite to fly. I walked down the field carrying it, its tails, lines and two ground pegs in my hands.
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