It's Robert Burns' 251st birthday. Tonight, all over the world, Scots and their friends will gather to celebrate Scotland's beloved bard by reciting his poems, eating Scotch broth, haggis, neeps, and tatties, and sipping whisky. I attended my first Burns Night in Prague in 2002, where I heard Burns recited in proper Scots for the first time; one cannot know the beauty of his poems until hearing them in the intended dialect. I attended Burns Suppers in Portugal and Slovenia, and had one of my own in Switzerland; a friend attended a Burns ceilidh in India last weekend, another in Los Angeles last night. It's one of my favorite Scottish traditions, because it is celebrating words.
It was fitting that last weekend was spent on the Scottish coast celebrating the country Burns loved. Friends came up from Edinburgh and we spent Saturday walking along the sea, taking in the dramatic west coast. I say this often, but will reiterate that one of the most moving and inspiring things about living up here is the wild - the ability to feel alone on an island of 61 million people. This is one of the beaches at Red Point, which looks off to Skye and Applecross. Cow's hoofmarks dotted the sand, along with the strange human objects washed in from the Atlantic - fishing twine, a Gatorade bottle, even a large orange buoy (center left in the photo below).
"Buoy" in US: boo-ey. "Buoy" in UK: boy. I thought they were kidding, they thought I was kidding. Still finding cultural divide elements.