The dog woke me up

August 10, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

It is 04:10 hrs. A desperate whine from my dog Chandler woke me up at 02:30 to go out. Obediently, I arose and took her out where she proved her needs, and we returned to the bedroom; I went to my bed, fully expecting to return also to sleep. But no.

Chandler is an adorable female canine, a cross of Blue Heeler and part of the Collie family, Sheltie or Border Collie, a kind, loving little dog. She was a birthday present to Patricia from her boyfriend at the time, named after the famous character, Chandler, from the long-running “Friends” series. I objected to this somewhat when I first saw her as a puppy, noting upon a brief examination that she was indeed female.

Ah, youth refuted my observations until, later, when a vet backed me up, there was the sudden reference to the birth of the triplets Phoebe bore for her brother and his mate. When one of them, presumed to be a boy and already named Chandler while still in utero, came out a girl, the call rang out: “Chandler’s a girl! Chandler’s a girl!”

So is the dog who woke me up at 02:30.

If not for sleep, the hour is a time for worries, reflections, hunting for solutions or simple ruminating. We are this weekend again engaged in the business of the next Highland Games, this time at Fergus. They can be a lot of fun can these festivals but the amount of pure hard labour that goes into getting ready and staging one’s stand, all the little and big details could burden your favourite theatre team. There are lots of them and not very many of Patricia and me. So, I lay in bed, mulling over the work yet to be done today (Wednesday), sorting out the order of things, turning over to lay in a different position with the idea that enough sleep would be better to deal with the list than not.

Then, I got up to idle a while with you.

The truth is, I love doing festivals, Scottish or otherwise. There was, for several years, a beautiful Celtic Festival held in Kew Gardens in Toronto. It really was bliss for the simple flutes, bodhrans, whistles and fiddles that play Celtic music sound like magic music, like elves dancing and light playing amongst the leaves of overhanging trees. Wherever there is Celtic, there is lightness, energy in the weaving patterns of the designs of cloth and metal and in the music too. 

It is just an open park, so people wander in off Queen Street at random because they pass and hear the music, the lilt of a singer, that irresistible draw. It is a park of flowers, grass and fine old trees, already relaxing, and people were so happy to chat and maybe choose an item to own, maybe take a snack from one of the food vendors. Lovely as it was, the Beach Celtic Festival was basically organized by one competent person who ran out of steam for it after a decade or so, and it came to a natural end, but it was grand while it lasted.

The one-day show at Embro is the oldest [day] Highland Games in Ontario, with a history dating back to 1850. In 1937, the Zorra Caledonian Society was formed “to perpetuate the spirit, music and games of Scotland.” We have been regulars there for ages.

We used to participate with the Irish Pavilion during Brampton’s Carabram festival, and that was a hoot for sure, the only pavilion with its own Leprechaun. The food was fish and chips and other solid Irish fare, and we laughed with the patrons and the folk running it. On the Sunday morning of the weekend, breakfast was waiting for us. There we sat in fine comradeship over the sausage and eggs, a cup of tea on the side, before greeting the visitors an hour later. 

Friendship is curious, and I appreciate its simple disinterest in time or distance or the reason why. For sure, there is a loose tie amongst us who do the circuit year after year, struggling to set up and tear down, protect and keep track of our product. We compare festivals that one attended, and another did not, swooping stories back and forth, praising and complaining, satisfied or grumpy, a slice of life in a capsule. They are a microcosm of life at large, every element in miniature contained in a couple of days, only to be packed up for the next time, whether in a week or two or not until next year.

Sure, there are always the questions that come with this nomadic life, albeit temporarily, about whether we will go again or not. For how many years will we keep doing this? Some days, we are pretty sure; other days, a “maybe” comes into the thinking. 

Yet, there is much to learn from the effort and all that goes into this part-of-your-year lifestyle: how to deal with all the details and the other people involved. How to handle the weather, how to actually live in those moments because they demand your full attention at the time.

Undistracted – if you catch my meaning.

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