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Charlotte Juarez's Going Home
Thursday, March 27 - Culloden and Aberdeen

March 27, 2003
Inverness, 7:45 a.m.

I’ve been awake about an hour or so on a beautiful (for a desert dweller) very cool morning in Inverness. I slept soundly, snuggled as usual under a warm and airy duvet, which I still think of as a “feder decke” or “feather blanket” from our three years living in Lutjenburg, by Kiel in north Germany (1968-1971) when John was in the Navy. There must be a rule here in Scotland that all bed and breakfast beds must be covered by a soft, light, cozy duvet – I really must get one.

I also love the little “geysers” as they were known in my days here or probably “water heaters” now. In all the showers I’ve encountered during this trip, each has their own personal tank, about the size of a legal sheet of paper (12” x 14”) or so, which heats the water as used. I’ve never run out of hot water, and it seems more economical than our single, big water tank in the garage in Phoenix.

At Dunlaw House, the wash hand basin had its own mini version. They’re smaller than the one we had in our house in Hill Street, but reinforce to my mind that although there is much new here in the land of my birth, Scotland really hasn’t changed at all.

TV is all war news. If I allowed myself, I could easily feel guilty to be so relaxed and really carefree at this time, believing my family to be safe and well in the US and my work responsibilities toward the dialysis patients where I’m employed under control.

I feel sad, however, that we are at war. No decent person wants that. But I do believe to prevent worse results that could be seen if Saddam and his regime were not removed, this is necessary. The “coalition” has lost a member of the Black Watch. The news doesn’t say where he’s from, but most likely from Dundee, Angus, or some other Tayside region. God bless his family.

Aberdeen. Hilton Treetops 10:05 p.m.
The day began rainy in Inverness, but leaving at 10:00 a.m. allows the weather to clear up and the sun to come out. It was misty and moisty again as we left Inverness and headed towards Culloden Moor.

There was a light mist on the moor when we arrived this morning, not too many days before the anniversary of this 1746 defeat of the Clans and the atrocities of the English reprisals on the battlefield against the Clansmen and through many years after 1746 against their families and highland Scots. Nowadays, we’d call it “ethnic cleansing” and English “humanitarians” would be up in arms against such action. But, I’m not bitter – much.

The visitor center movie was clear and, unlike my rendition of the events at Culloden, dispassionate and informative. The exhibits and artifacts in the Center enlarge the picture of the 45 Rebellion and the escape of Prince Charles Edward (I call him that to keep the difference clear between him and the current person of like name who lives in England), aided by brave and loyal clansmen and women, and also includes Flora McDonald’s life story.

Lest you get me wrong, I’m not a romanticist about the Bonnie Prince. I’ve read my history and spent my time thinking and interpreting what this man’s upbringing and life, and behaviors before, during, and after the rebellion did to Scotland. It’s not him I admire – because he did show princely arrogance towards the Clan chiefs whose experience and advice, if he had followed it, could have brought about different results and interesting ramifications to current life in the British Isles. I admire the courage and the loyalty of those who promised him their all, and I’m upset at the massacre that followed. I’ve been told by supervisors and mentors that I have a deep sense of loyalty and justice. I hope it’s the highland blood in me that hasn’t been too diluted – after all, we’ve only added Welsh and Belgian ancestors to my mix. During the trip when I’ve gotten on my hobby horse regarding Scottish history and our relationship with our neighbours to the south, I know I’ve said to my friends on several occasions, “I remember Culloden.” There’s a depth of meaning to that, deep in my soul, because these are my people who fought and who died in this place. And these are my people who suffered afterwards.

I asked the visitor center guide for directions to my clan’s markers, the McIntosh – my granny was Charlotte Beat McIntosh (born 1890), her father Alexander McIntosh (born about 1860), and his father Robert McIntosh (born about 1800). I haven’t got my genealogy beyond Robert, who lived in Stanley, Perthshire. But it doesn’t take much imagination to consider that Robert (my third great grandfather) was the child of a father, probably born about 1770) whose father would have been born into a family of the Culloden era around 1740 or so. And if my great, great, grandfather Robert McIntosh was raised on stories from the Highland tradition of bards and storytelling as I was by my Granny, Culloden and the ’45 would have been just as real to him as World War II was to me because my mother and grandmother told me such vivid stories about that time and what it meant to them, their lives, and to us as a family. I pass these World War II stories on to my children, and the tradition of remembrance continues.

As I stood by the Mackintosh grave markers and the mounds of my clan dead I first felt my heart beat race and a lump come to my throat as a physical reaction to my presence among the dead. It was as if the flight or fight response was within me. I felt passionate and angry about the lies of the Duke of Cumberland to his troops, falsely telling them the clansmen would “give no quarter” to government soldiers. Out of this lie came the slaughter, the reprisals, the Clearances, and the breaking of the Clans.
Then, as I walked away from the graves, I felt peace replacing the anger. The Clansmen, like my Welsh grandfather who was killed in 1918 when his submarine was torpedoed, are at rest with their clan companions with whom they marched and fought and died.

They sleep together, their blood mixed as a part of the earth and the land they loved. Their families may be dispersed and gone from our clan lands near Inverness, and these men may no longer fight in the thick of the battle which was Culloden Moor that 16th day of April, but the clans are gathering and those of us who claim to be McIntosh understand and honor our heritage.

And I now can remember Culloden not as a defeat, but as a remembrance of the courage of those who fought, and a promise of the fortitude of those who survived.

My friends and I met up as we walked back to the visitor center. Their mood was somber and our laughter was gone for the moment. They had respected my need to be alone on the moor. They understood that to me, my Scottish birth and blood merged with my father’s American citizenship, gave Culloden Moor an equal significance to that of Arlington National Cemetery.

Our visit to the Gift Shop, however, was cheering. We met an American woman who was traveling the UK with her husband and family who told us they had brought their four daughters to Culloden because she was reading Diana Gabaldon’s series of historical novels about that time and place, and “just had to see it” for herself. Three of us in our Girls Road Trip are members of this almost cult like group avidly following the adventures of Claire and Jamie Fraser and having serious “withdrawals” during the long, long, waits between the release of each new novel – helps me understand the Harry Potter followers a little more. So we all commiserated for a few moments on our wait for the next installment.

We initiated an “All hail the mighty Diana” moment by chanting the words and genuflecting right there in the gift shop in front of one of her books. Mad, quite mad.

The tour guide who gave me directions to the graves had also mentioned a book about heroines of the ’45 Rebellion. Steve, our driver, must have overheard that conversation. When I got back to the van, there waiting for me, was the gift shop’s one and only copy of “Damn Rebel Bitches, the Women of the 45.” And there is a Mackintosh “Rebel Bitch” (according to the English) with a chapter in the book – another heroine for me to learn about. That will be on my reading list tonight.

After Culloden it was on to Aberdeen. We stopped at Elgin for lunch, on the High Street, in a converted Church, followed by another of our frequent shopping strolls around the town. The shopping results we’re showing are a mix of Scotland’s best – not in any kind of preference or order – books, jewelry (heather gems and silver), music, woolens, food (shortbread and marzipan) among them. I’m still looking for a copy of Valerie Dunbar’s CD, Forever Argyle, which was the music Jane played during our dinners at Greshornish, but no luck yet.

Before lunch, however, we stopped at Speyside’s smallest distillery for a tour and a taste. Much more low key than the Famous Grouse tour, but more intimate and very personalized. An experience my friends enjoyed. (A wee note, here – these pictures are on the second roll of film I sadly lost somewhere in Scotland.)

So, having spent about an hour and a half to two hours each at Culloden, the Distillery, then Elgin, we added a little more time to our expected three and a half hours drive or so from Inverness, and it really should come as no surprise we didn’t get here to Aberdeen until about six this evening.

The Girls Road Trip evening tonight began with a room service party in Belinda and Kari’s room. Just like a pajama party! Then, a nice surprise: Lia has an e-mail friend who raises Skye Terriers and lives near Aberdeen. She came to meet Lia and brought her beautiful eleven year old Skye, Misty, to meet us all. Wee oohed over Misty, then left Lia and her friend, Kathy, to cement their friendship in the real, as opposed to the cyber, world.

It’s now almost 11, and time for me to settle down for the night. Tomorrow we will end this part of the trip with a day in Glasgow after a stop in Stirling at the Castle. Maybe we can make this three hour trip in less than six. Who knows?

Sleep in Peace Now, Soldier Laddies

The Cairn

The heather moor and peat bog the Highlanders had to charge across

May they rest in peace

For the Appin Stewart

The Well and the Wall
Where the McIntosh Stood

McIntosh Clan Grave Mounds

Sleep in Peace Now, The Battle’s O’er

Click on the above to read the text

Message on a tea towel I bought at Crianlarich

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