There’s no better remedy for blowing the gunk out of your brain than dreaming.
This week a head cold derailed my after-work plans. Thanksgiving is almost here and Christmas close behind. Family is arriving and I wanted to get a head start on baking, one of my favorite pleasures. I had visions of preparing crusts for pumpkin and apple pies and cookie dough for cinnamon snicker doodles, chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies.
Instead of baking, for three days, I sneezed, dripped, wiped and wheezed, steamed my head over bowl after bowl of hot water and stood beneath soothing sprays of water trying to ease the slime that, like greasy crap in a drain, clogged my brain and kept me from thinking of anything but pain.
With an unseen flotilla of germs floating around I banned anyone from physical contact with me. For comfort I sucked down liberal doses of peppermint or honey- vanilla chamomile tea, chicken soup, and wrapped my aching self in my trusted, soft- as-a-rabbit Hugs-N-Kisses blanket, given me some years ago by my friend/sister Connie. And in between dozing and steaming I settled down to watch some of my favorite programs that never fail to transport me to other worlds: Antique Road show (UK version), All Creatures Great and Small and Monarch of the Glen.
England and Scotland are two of my favorite places to visit. It all started back in the early 1980s when an Air Force assignment sent me on a four year tour to RAF Lakenheath, East Anglia, England. Although I never made it to Scotland during our tour, when we left, I vowed to return one day to see more of the United Kingdom.
In 2012 I finally made it to Scotland.
Perhaps it wasn’t one of my best ideas to use a winter holiday weekend (it was President’s day in the U.S.) to go and snoop on the Scots. I expected a chilly forecast. For one, these northerners are reputed to be a bit sullen. (Remember the scene in Braveheart? You know, the one, where they lifted their kilts and mooned the English?) But I lucked out. Each day brought at least a few moments of sunshine, both from the weather and the folks I met.
One day I had sun, rain and a snow blizzard–all within an hour. I planned to hike to Arthur’s Crag. To get there I first had to battle blinding snow. I thought it better to see what the cafe at Holyrood Palace had to offer. While the blizzard howled outside I warmed up with peppermint tea, currant scones with strawberry jam and heart-clogging clotted cream. Arthur just had to wait for me to check out his seat another day.
Brisk, chilly winds are less offensive when you charge up the steep, Royal Mile, a cobble-stone street that connects Holyrood with Edinburgh Castle. But even the most ardent hiker must admit: sometimes it’s nice to let someone else take charge. After sore feet and shin splints began to announce themselves I signed up for two day trips: Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.
Loch Ness was not my first choice. I may be a dreamer but the possibility of a monster in the Loch never fascinated me. However, when the desired destination fell through (not enough sign-ups) I said “What the hell” and carried on.
Who knew that a trip to Loch Ness would be one of my favorite memories.
Billy, our young tour guide and driver, originally from Glasgow and keen to make us understand the competition between Edinburghers and Glaswegians, was fun and filled with fascinating facts and stories. We passed through valleys and forests, stopped for a hot second at the castle made famous by Monty Python’s cow-tossing gang, and saw white swans float regally on lakes.
“Did you know,” he asked, “that all the swans belong to the Queen and not too long ago if you killed one of them it was still considered a treason, punishable by death?”
We stopped at Glen Coe, the site of a historic massacre. I stepped in to freezing rain that sliced into my face. The howling wind shook me around while I paused to take in the rain-soaked, hauntingly bleak, mountainous valley, home to only a deserted, derelict cabin or two.
We drove on. Billy told stories. I, half-listening, watched the rain smack against the windows. Suddenly the gloom broke. Over a stretch of flat, wet lands, a double rainbow stretched.
After a while our mini bus crested a hill. The view greeting us on the other side will forever stick Scotland in my mind.
The sky held remnants of the wild: shreds of gray clouds streaked the celestial cover and here and there shafts of sunlight pierced through to the wet, green earth. In the distance a dark, blue-green lake glittered, the surface waves tossed about like birds in a storm. And down in the valley stood the imposing gray remnants of ancient Urquhart Castle.
These days, whenever I’m feeling gloomy or ill and have cobwebs, or in this case, mucous, to blow from the brain, I watch Monarch of the Glen. The story centers around the fictional Glenbogle house and their owners, the MacDonald clan: Hector, Molly, Archie, Lexie, Paul, Duncan and Golly the Gillie. The views: a castle on a lake, pine forests, snowcapped mountains, deep valleys, stags, ospreys and even the occasional “Hamish” or hairy coo. The show never fails to entertain; it gives me food for thought and makes me laugh and dream of possibilities, like — going back to Scotland.
It’s a blessing to dream.
And to laugh.
I can’t think of better feel-good remedies.