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Never met a haggis before, have you?
You don't know we're endangered species?
Haggis hunting season is the week before Robbie Burns
Birthday, that's January 25th. So, the season is open January 18-25th.
But, a reasonably clever haggis is still not in much danger
if he keeps his wits about him.
Only kilted Highlanders can hunt a haggis, and only then if
they can play certain notes on the bagpipes .... and then only if they have secured
themselves a Haggis Hunting License at Hogmanay.
Most are too drunk to remember to get their license before
they stumble home in the pre-dawn or dawn or post-dawn hours of the first day of the New
Year. By then, it is too late.
But, if a Highlander has a kilt, a license, bagpipes and
the skill to play those certain notes....there are still difficulties for the Highlander
to overcome. January is the coldest month of the Nova Scotian year, snow and ice and
strong winds are everywhere.
Do you know what it's like to wear a kilt in the cold
winter air? The hose keeps what's below the knees warm. There is nothing worn under the
kilt, all is in good working order -- but it's mighty cold out there in the hills
hunting haggis. Only the strongest can cope.....but then, there are more difficulties
facing that shivering Highlander.
Bagpipes don't like to be played in the cold.....they miss
notes, they don't sound notes, or they play different notes than the fingers of the
Highlander dictate to the chanter.
So, the haggis just sits there and laughs and laughs. No
one can catch him with that garbled frigid bagpipe music. It just does not have the
It's almost a losing battle. Almost. Once in awhile some of
the older haggis suffering from alzheimers gets lost in the woods in mid-to-late January
-- that haggis is most in trouble. But, then, is it not really "mercy killing"
That's why the Highlanders (and the Lowlanders too) concoct
what is known as synthetic haggis. You've seen one recipe for that synthetic haggis in
Synthetic haggis is quite tasty. You should make a good
supply, and it's quite economical too -- ever hear of the "thrifty Scot" ??
My ancestors came over from Scotland in 1773 on the Ship
Hector, before the days we came under the Protected Species Legislation. We fled to shore,
having hid on the boat most of the journey -- it had been driven off course and back
towards Scotland all of a two weeks journey by severe winds, so there was almost no food
left on ship (not a safe spot for a haggis in those days) --
As I was saying, we jumped into the water as soon as we
were sure it was Pictou on the horizon and swam underwater swiftly until we landed
downwind about a mile from where the Hector was planning to put off its passengers.
Quicker than bunnies, we were off into the forest and running as fast as our two short and
one long legs would carry us.
When we stopped for breath, we were in the most beautiful
spot we have ever seen....it reminded us of the tales our grand- parents told of their
ancestors' tales -- passed down through the generations from the original haggai in the
Garden of Eden (where Gaelic was the spoken language, though the serpent was speaking
English). A most wonderful spot, green and magnificent.
As soon as they realized that they were safe, miles and
miles from any Highlander (the Indians had known and revered haggai from generations back
into the mists of early time, so we were safe among them).....they rested, and relaxed.
After awhile, refreshed by rest and nourishment, the elders
of the haggai gathered for their first Haggai Council Session in the new land. All were in
agreement, unaminous vote.
They would make their home there, right there by the lake
which they called Eden Lake.
Their home .... well, there was no other choice but to call
it the Garden of Eden.
And it is still known by that today. William Macdonald and
his family came later, about 1830, built a home there and raised a large family. Three
years ago, when a cairn to the William Macdonald and his wife was erected, haggai were
seen reading the inscription and examining the stonework of that cairn.
If you have a map of Nova Scotia, look at the south-east
corner of Pictou County .... and you will see the exact location of the "Garden of
And now, because the hour is late, I bid you "so
Hamish Iain Iye Haggis