Prunella Entwhistle Visits The Highlands

glen coe prunella highlands

Many years ago my (then) girlfriend, let’s call her Prunella Entwhistle, and I took a vacation to Scotland so she could meet the relatives and eat haggis.

A dyed-in-the-wool Romantic, Prunella adored art and was an amateur sculptor. Enthusiastic and impulsive by nature, she was given to moments of inspiration infrequently preceded by rational deliberation. The vacation progressed well and we crisscrossed the Scottish highlands in a rented Mini, lodging modestly in tiny towns with names like Auchnagallin, Kearvaig, and Cave of Smoo.

One morning, as we were leaving the latest in a long line of B&Bs, I firmly gripped the handles of our suitcases to take them downstairs for packing into the Mini. Doing so gave me the distinct impression that our suitcases did not wish to come along.

Flummoxed and put off in a way unique to people trying to break camp and get going, I raised the bags slowly – they had definitely put on weight. I was then reminded of a nagging suspicion I’d had – and ignored – for days, that either I was becoming weaker or the bags were getting heavier.

Impatient and irritated I opened them up to determine if this was real or some dreadful hallucination. There, carefully wrapped and stashed inside Prunella’s sweaters, shirts, and trousers were half-a-dozen large stones, souvenirs of the Highlands. I was horrified, but it was about to get worse.

I also discovered several whiskey bottles that had been filled with water from mountain springs. As I realized I’d been carrying this dead weight up and down stairs – and was expected to carry it through various airport terminals – the blood began to rise like mercury in a thermometer.

Later, after I’d vented sufficiently to make continued travel possible, Prunella revealed her “artistic” plan to install a little garden in our Pennsylvania home featuring Scottish rocks and water. I shook my head in quiet disbelief, wishing for a witness to confirm the depths of my suffering.

To live is to accumulate baggage. It pays to have a good look through the contents every now and again; some beliefs, assessments, values, etc. may have outlived their usefulness. As to dragging around somebody else’s insanity, well, enough is enough.

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Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved immediately to Edinburgh, and three years later moved to Amsterdam. At 6 he settled in Philadelphia and for 16 years was confused by Quaker education; Germanton Friends School and Haverford College. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville nudged him even closer to unemployability. Convinced at an early age that fate had chosen writing as his calling, Alistair followed a characteristically slow and circuitous path. He has found work as deck hand on a Norwegian tramp freighter touring South America, Bureau of Land Management Emergency Fire Fighter in Alaska, guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp, truck driver crisscrossing Colorado's continental divide, and inner city cabbie. Alistair has been arranging words on paper for a living since 1983.