When you think about giving someone a gift, I’d bet most of you don’t entertain the idea of gifting a person. It seems a rather archaic bestowal, one reserved for a plantation owner increasing his human workforce, or a recently deceased pharaoh to accompany him into the world to come, except when you consider who is bestowing the gift. My English husband, Sir Sackier, considers himself—if the fates cooperate—the future royalty of reclaimed land (that would be America). Therefore, granting a human endowment would not make him pause, believing the token curious, or even illegal.
Nonetheless, one of the nicest things he ever did for me happened on the day we’d moved into our newly built house on top of this mountain, a damp, misty December morning. Both my folks had come to help unpack boxes and direct a crew of moving men. Shortly after the moving crew left, I moved to the kitchen, burying myself in a box of newspaper wrapped crockery. Suddenly, I thought I’d heard somebody shout. I pulled my head out of the four foot deep box, hoping someone had finally discovered my favorite white platter that had gone missing two moves ago.
Sir Sackier hollered from outside, and my mom rushed into the kitchen, all a twitter, saying I’d better high tail it out to where he was. I expected the worst. Surely the man had fallen into an undiscovered well, or maybe he’d come upon a prickle of porcupines, a gang of angry elk or a cackle of hyenas. My mind whirled with all the unusual suspects when it came to the sceptred isle native.
I stepped onto the deck off the kitchen. Sir Sackier stood there with a ridiculous grin spread across his face. He looked like he was eight and had found his first frog.
“Do you hear something?” he asked, cocking an ear toward the mountains.
I leaned forward and scanned the horizon. What should I be listening for? The scream of a bobcat? The cry of an eagle? The sound of a bullfrog being squished behind his back?
“No,” I said, and then stopped. Because just then I did. I heard the magical sound my heart had suctioned itself to, years earlier when I first went to Scotland.
I looked out into the mid-day gloom, across the tree-covered slopes of the mountains, wondering how in the world I’d gotten so lucky as to pick a plot of land that was within earshot of a practicing piper. And then I saw him coming up our driveway.
Wheezing up our driveway.
Our driveway, which is one mile long and one thousand feet straight up.
“What do you think?” Sir Sackier asked me as both my parents joined us on the porch, a video camera in his hands and pointed at my face.
“Oh my God, the poor man!” I shouted, positive the piper was going to have a cardiac arrest before he made it to the top. “Did you do this?” I pointed at the asthmatic geezer in full Gaelic getup.
That eight year old face beamed and nodded. “Yep. Happy moving in day, Shell!”
I looked back toward the kitchen boxes. “Where is the carton that has our first aid kit? I need to see if we have a defibrillator in it.” I bit my lip wondering if there was going to be an eventual lawsuit, but hearing that beautiful sound in the most perfect setting made tears come to my eyes. A piper! To christen our new home.
After fifteen more blissful and painful minutes, the piper finally came through the front door without pausing for breath, and into the hallway—where I thought he’d surely collapse. Instead, he stood bellowing in the hollowed out foyer, perfectly centered beneath a space that rose a full forty feet above him. The blast of the pipes exploded through the house, puncturing the walls and paralyzing my parents. This is oftentimes the sneaky tactics of a military piper, who then signals the rest of the highlanders to sneak up behind their stunned victims and slice off their heads with a clean sweep of their broadswords. Although this probably wasn’t intended, loss of voluntary movement was a by-product of my husband’s housewarming gift.
Even if my folks were too polite—or too stupefied to put their fingers in their ears—I stood there, rooted to the ground, thrilled with the razor sharp melody piercing my bones. It was then Sir Sackier informed me that he felt we needed a house piper and this man was my gift. He could play at whatever events we hosted up here on the mountain. How could I say no? But it was necessary to make a clear distinction. I felt we owed the poor man as he nearly did himself in climbing the mountain to get here, not owned the poor man because he was idiotic enough to pick up the phone when harkened by this aspiring new monarch. I doubt Sir Sackier heard what I said. He had his fingers in his ears.
Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery this week (here) and what we’re all talkin’ about down in the pub (here).
7 thoughts on “Pipers On Sale, Aisle Three”
One of my very good friends plays the bagpipes, and while I am impressed with his obvious talents, I also warn him that doing so in my neck of the woods could lead to a pit bull attack or a precisely placed lead slug from a neighbor. 😉 Shelley, I feel like I’m escaping to a another world when I read your posts… and I appreciate the vacation from my own world from time to time!
This wonderful and thoughtful gift of the piper does not surprise me at all. I have always known that the eccentric Sir Sackier portrayed here really does have a heart of gold. While I do actually believe this, I am also hoping that he will look kindly on me after the Reclamation.
Nicely done Shelley. You have a great style in your writing. Knowing Sir Sackier well enough, I can easily imagine his employ of a piper. I can also empathize with the role of a husband frequently mentioned in his wife blog. Check it out. – Husband from Late Bloomer Bride.
Good strategy to let Sir Jonathan think he is positioned for royal status on ‘reclaimed land’ while you commence the annexation of the 51st State starting with your northern outpost. Welcome to the Isles.
Wow! I knew Jonathan was uniquely-personalitied but bagpipes…that takes one heck of a brain…. Congratulations on your new house. It looks just beautiful and I bet is breath-taking as well (if only the fog wasn’t covering the landscape in the pictures). I wish I lived close enough to be able to attend one of the “events” of which you speak…to hear bagpipes “live” is an experience in itself and one few would forget.
All of my very best to you and Jonathan. I miss hearing his wonderful accent.
Serenaded by bagpipe, new to me but I can see how this can make an impact!
Ahhh … the perfect piper vision from the once outlawed pipes … wonderful! Hopefully you had a range of fast paced jigs mixed with a few pibrochs. I thought I had heard the best at Grandfather Mt until chancing upon a small competition in Scotland years ago. Our Scots brethren played with a fluid passion that stood apart from the mechanical precision at the highland games. What a wonderful gift and I tip my hat at the thoughtfulness therein. Thank you for sharing! Take care, Doc. P.S. The Germans in the First World War referred to the piped kilted Scots coming across No Mans Land toward them as “The Ladies From Hell”, which sadly is the way the majority of the listening public today respond. Glad to know you stand apart from the masses … your writing certainly bespeaks this gift. Thank you again for putting pen to digital paper.