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Charlotte Juarez's Going Home
Tuesday, March 11

Tuesday, March 11th, 2003

It’s interesting about how you just don’t notice some things right away. For example, I never realized how cold and fresh and sweet Dundee tap water was until I cam back as an adult on this tri p – after buying drinking water for so many years in Phoenix I can almost hear my Granny saying, as she often did, "There’s nothing like Tay water."

Neither did I pay much attention to the unfamiliar slip of paper in my suitcase when I unpacked the other day upon arriving at Joy’s home. I pulled it out tonight – words along the lines of "in the interest of airline safety against terrorist attack" greet me and go on to inform me "your bag may have been opened and searched." I’m still trying to figure out how that slip of a notice got into my bag if it hadn’t been searched!

I did notice many other things today, though. Joy made us real porridge for breakfast this morning, and I noticed the wee nip of the salt in it.

I noticed how kind the cemetery representative was when I called to make arrangements to meet at the Eastern Cemetery and he said he’d escort us from the main gat to our family "lair."

I noticed how cooperative the Dundee Courier representative was as I made arrangements for a death notice, four months after the event, to bury my mother’s ashes. And I noticed how simple it was to put together a woman’s life in a few lines about children, and family, and love and coming home to Scotland.

I noticed what a wonderful blessing friends are as Joy spent another of her days off work in a holiday with us.

I noticed the beautifully yellow buds of the daffodils and the purple crocuses and the white late winter snowdrops along the Kingsway as we took the girls along the way to the low road to Broughty Ferry.

I noticed the nip of the North Sea air as we walked along the Ferry’s streets, past what once were the jute barons homes and fisherfolk cottages and over the dunes onto the beach where I played on special days as a child with my mum and my granny, eating sand sprinkled egg and tomato sandwiches, making sandcastle with my shiny bucket and spade, swimming in the cold water and pleasing for one more donkey ride along the water’s edge.

I noticed the clean beach, empty of holidaymakers at this time of year, but the Tay flowing swiftly by on this windy day. We found some shells to carry home and I slipped them in the pockets of my daughter and granddaughter whose rosy cheeks and windswept hair told me that my Granny’s ideas of a day at the Ferry to clear your thinking as well as your sinuses could be the best medicine of all.

I noticed pleasure and heard laughter and interest as the girls saw lighthouses for the first time in their lives, and understood that the Castle Green was a place for troops to drill and children once to play, not necessarily a colourful description of an ancient monument.

I noticed that learning is not only experienced in a school room as we explored Broughty’s 15th Century Castle, with exhibits on the landings at the end of each winding step up the staircase to the top of the tower – fishing; whaling; volunteer lifeboat men who gave their lives saving others from their lifeboat, the Mona; Broughty’s sons, fathers, brothers and husbands – and local daughters, too – who served Scotland in so many domestic battles and foreign wars; the seabirds and marine life of this important life sustaining and town protecting estuary; the people who lived here, and visited, and worked, and played as part of Angus life.

I noticed families still walking to the water’s edge; the seagulls and swans that seemed to crowd in the same spot on the Rocky Beach as they did almost 50 years ago in my childhood, and a mother with her daughter who was practicing her toddling steps, bundled up against the sear air as so many generations had in the past.

We had a wonderful day at the Ferry. I don’t think we really explained to my eleven year old granddaughter that Broughty once had a ferry, and hence the name Broughty Ferry, or just the Ferry. As we ended our visit there – strolling back to the car after exploring thrift shops and browsing gift shops, enjoying the certified and recently awarded best ice cream in Scotland still at Visocchi’s – Xylia looked at me quizzically and asked, "But, Granma, when do we take the ride on the ferry?" Poor little thing, yesterday she learned that "tea" was a meal and not always a beverage; today she learned the Ferry is Brought and the "Fifie" which no longer exists, was the ferry.

Our day ended with naps when we came home – driving back along the Kingsway and the girls joining in song as we celebrated our female ancestors lives with lusty and enthusiastic renderings of all three verses and the chorus of "Ye Canna Shove Yer Granny Aff A Bus."

"Mad," murmured my 18 year old daughter, "They’re both quite mad."

Tea tonight was fish suppers – which seemed to confuse Xylia even more as she learned her Scottish language arts. And I noticed the smell of malt vinegar sprinkled on the crisp, white battered fish.

Another good day in Dundee.

A stained glass window in Broughty FerryA stained glass window in Broughty Ferry Castle museum honouring the whalers from her seagoing past

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