Scotland in September started out in the sunshine.
I had a visit from a very dear friend.
Kelly and I have been friends since we were in elementary school and she has visited me everywhere I have ever lived. She is the sort of friend with whom you can pick up like you have never been apart, which is to say that every moment with her is a gift of comforting familiarity and being absolutely loved.
On the first of September we wandered in Edinburgh together under the bluest of blue skies.
I showed her all my favorite spots, stopping in shops and museums and for tea along the way.
Next we welcomed our friends Jamey and Ashley, who got the whirlwind tour of Aberdeen and the Shire, including a walk around one of our favorite castles, Drum Castle.
The thistles were still in bloom in early September.
On my birthday I walked to a new international women’s gathering and it was so warm outside that I took my jacket off. Unwittingly I dropped it along the way, and someone hung it up for me on the side of the road. I have dropped many scarves, sweaters, gloves and other various things while walking around towns and this was the first time in retracing my steps that I found something I’d dropped. It was like a sweet little birthday surprise.
On my Mama’s birthday, I went to the beach to walk under gray skies.
I found this little heart-shaped rock that I’ve kept with me all month long and I pray for her when I touch it inside my pocket.
The day after my mom’s birthday is my friend Jermaine’s birthday.
It was a gorgeous day in Aberdeen.
Taido was out of town, so I went by myself to watch the sun set on the beach and be thankful for my friend Jermaine, who is halfway around the world at the moment.
It seemed like this week in September marked the last of the long summer nights. The sunsets started to drop off quickly after this week and soon it started to be dark at dinner time again.
A couple days later I was back at the beach with another visiting friend and we could hardly walk for the wind.
It’s crazy to me how this same spot can seem like a completely different world depending on the season, but also in the same week.
Walking back to town in mid-September and meeting more women from all over the world.
And picking blackberries. A lot.
The next bright blue day, I was back at the beach.
No one else in my family really likes going down to Aberdeen Beach as much as I do, so I’ve been stealing away for an hour here and there this month.
At some point, I thought to myself, I might never live only five minutes away from a beach again in my life. So I should go more often. Like whenever I think about it.
And so I have.
I steal away for thirty minutes after I drop one of the kids at a friend’s house.
One Saturday, none of the kids wanted to go for a walk. That’s always the case actually, but usually we make them.
But on this particular (very gorgeous) Saturday, we let the kids stay home. They bargained that they would clean the house while Taido and I were gone on a walk. We stayed out most of the afternoon and logged ten miles on these mountain bike trails nearby. I was exhausted from trying to keep up with Taido, but it was all kinds of good stuff.
We found a stone circle in the heather fields.
This photo is just for my niece, Grace, who was constantly wishing we could perform some kind of Outlander ritual at a stone circle while she visited this summer. Serious faces + Hands on Stones = Outlander Scene. (I’ve actually not ever read or seen Outlander, so I have no idea what I’m talking about.)
And bonus of the day: We came home to a clean house.
The leaves started to change around this time.
Sunday walking to church. (MP with a new bob.)
Back at the beach a few days later.
I found a new shell/bead for my dreads.
Walking in my neighborhood.
Back at the beach. Only this time a little further north.
This is the mouth of the River Don, and I usually walk on the south side of the Don, but you can also walk on the north side where the sand dunes rise up in front of the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.
I climbed up the dunes and was sitting in the grass when I met a lady who was a bit lost. She spoke not a word of English but somehow, she communicated that she was lost.
We walked back together through these grasses above the sea until we reached the road and she seemed to recognize where she was. We walked together for half an hour communicating only in hand signals.
This photo is from my favorite walk of the whole month, a walk from Tarland that got it’s own post already.
The leaves were really starting to change along the Don River on the last Sunday in September.
I walked to church alone that day.
The next day I walked to town to meet Taido for his birthday.
The sunset on his birthday was positively gorgeous.
The next day I went back to the beach to say goodbye to September days of walking. I thought it would be my last trip to the beach in September. But it turned out that I went back the next night.
On the last day of September. I walked on the beach boardwalk with my friend Joy. In the almost dark, we took turns sharing the joys and sorrows of the past couple of months since we’d seen each other. Once it was pitch dark and we could no longer see, we sat on a bench facing the North Sea with thermos cups of tea. We could just make out the ships in the distance from their lights on the water. While we sat there talking, a blood red moon started rising out of the sea. We gasped. We could not stop looking and being in awe at the giant light coming up and spilling out onto the water. We kept talking and drinking tea (and eating my favorite new Italian biscuits) and coming back to the moon. What a gift it was. The light got higher and brighter and the reflection lengthened over the water, a shimmering path of light now. Stretching out before us. Calling to us. We stayed watching it for as long as we could stand the shivers and well after the tea had gone cold.
For most of September, I walked alone on paths in and around Aberdeen. I sang songs and memorized words and prayed and listened to podcasts and wondered at trees and rocks and sea. But in His mercy, God gave me the gift of beginning and ending this beautiful month alongside dear friends. A dear, longtime friend from my childhood and a dear, new-this-season friend from my current home.
There is a picture there somehow of the journey I am on in this faraway country, and I am painting it by marking the hour of almost every day that I get outside and move my feet along the path. If I did not walk, if I did not remember to be grateful for the walk, and to mark it in some way, I am afraid that I might miss out on seeing God’s grace washing over my days the way the surf comes up over my rainboots.