It’s the Lives

It’s early morning on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. I am sitting in a celery-colored, velvet wing chair at The Kennels, Buck and my residence for the week. My view into the blue sky outside the large window is partially blocked by a tree whose leaves are bathed in shade on one side and sparkling with morning sun on the other. Janis Joplin is coming straight at me through the laptop’s headset. Her growly, rough, sometimes little girl voice is a reminder from my days at the University of Florida in the early 1970’s. I bought the bargain rack “Greatest Hits” CD to download onto my laptop before we left home. I think George and Ira Gershwin would have been dumbstruck by her keening version of “Summertime.”

I’ve visited Steve, the fishmonger at Creeler’s Restaurant and Smokehouse several times during our visit to pick up some tasty morsel to fix for dinner: salmon twice, scallops and monk fish.

Steve greeted me Wednesday. “Halloo, Beth from Pensacola. Have ya heard how yer fam’ly fared in th’ storm?”  Steve is a solidly built guy, tall, strong with years of running his fishing boat, hand filleting thousands of fish, brining and either hot or cold smoking them for sale on Arran or sending up to their other Creeler’s restaurant in Edinburgh. Standing in the doorway, we talk about Hurricane Ivan, my family’s good fortune in coming through virtually unscathed, and the poor suffering people in Haiti and the horrendous loss of life from Tropical Storm (now Hurricane) Jeanne.

Steve stands with a fillet knife in his hand, contemplatively fingers the point and then wipes it on his apron. A long scar just under one eyebrow pulsates. We pass the time for a few more minutes and agree that trees can be replanted, but “it’s the lives that matter, aye?”

Aye, Steve, so right.

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