From Northern Ireland we took a ferry across the sea to Scotland. We traveled to the northeast of Glasgow to the village of Stirling. Here, standing high atop a volcanic outcrop Stirling Castle looks over the flat valley with the River Forth below. This area was crucial during Scotland’s history as it is the transition point between the Lowlands to the south and the Highlands to the north. During the Wars of Independence the castle changed hands eight times in 50 years. The current castle dates from the late 14th to the 16th century, although there are mentions of a castle on this site dating back to 1110. Scottish kings and queens lived here and often times it served as the center of government.
This image is of the Queen Anne Garden that is overlooked by the Queen’s living quarters and the Prince’s Tower. It’s believed there has been a royal garden here since the 1400’s. The large flat lawn that extends away from the garden’s edge was turned into a bowling green in the 1620’s.
History is everywhere at this site, and we even found an area that relates to my family’s genealogy and the lineage of the Douglas clan/family. On the opposite side of the castle is another garden where it is believed that in 1452 King James II murdered the 8th Earl of Douglas and threw his body out a window into the area now called the Douglas Gardens.
It’s been peak bloom for peonies this past week. With our hot temperatures and gusty winds I can walk outside and immediately smell the scent of peonies in the air. It’s a short-lived bloom season, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I savor every day. We’ve added additional peony bushes over the years, but I continue to favor the ones that I transplanted from my mother and father’s house in Kansas. These are the ones that were on the side of their house, sometimes neglected, but they continued to blossom. Each year my parents would gather and cut the blooms to take to the cemeteries on Memorial Day and lay on the graves of relatives. Fast forward to now, with both my parents having passed on, I’m filled with wonderful memories and see these Kansas peonies blooming in honor of my mom and dad.
We traveled south last week for a visit with family in Kansas. Our route took us off the interstate and along two lane highways and county roads. It was relaxing and much more interesting than the speed-view when traveling at 70+ miles per hour. We stopped at small city parks and explored fields of corn and soybeans. The temperatures were still summer-like but the days are certainly shorter. The sunsets were beautiful like this one – fields of flowers and a ball of fire going down over the horizon but still giving its glow and colors to the clouds above. The field was full of dragonflies and grasshoppers, all in a feeding frenzy before fall and winter’s arrival. It was a wonderful trip — not just for the scenery but more importantly for the time spent with family.
My dad – Stan Staats – who served in the Korean war.
Thanks to all our country’s veterans. It’s a small word, but it is heartfelt.
We’d met up with friends and family in the early evening and headed out for some fishing. As my line and lure were not garnering any attention, I started watching the evening light. The sun moved lower on the horizon, the bright blue of the sky toned down, and the white clouds soaked up the lovely pink of twilight. Even the wind that had been blowing eventually stopped and the lake became like glass. The island ahead of us was reflected in the lake, but the clouds seemed to surround us, above and below. The light was fleeting, the colors left the sky, and dark settled in quickly. (And yes, my line remained uninteresting to the fish, but I left the lake thankful for the twilight’s beauty and the company of family and good friends.)