From The Fiery Cross:
“We were talking of birds; he bein’ uncommon fond of them. I asked him why it was that in the late summer, the birds sing at night–the nights are shorter then, ye’d think they’d want their rest, but no. There’s rustling and twittering and all manner o’ carryings-on, all the night long in the hedges and the trees.”
… “And did he have an answer?”
… “What he did was to capture a number of the birds, and shut them up in cages lined with blotting paper… only on the floor,” he explained. “He put out a wee plate on the floor filled with ink and cup of seed in the middle, so that they couldna feed without getting ink on their feet. Then as they hopped to and fro, their footprints would show on the blotting paper.”
“Umm. And what, precisely, did that show–other than black footprints?”
… “There were a great many footprints, Sassenach–but most of them were on one side of the cage. In all the cages… And it seems that all the night through, the birds were hopping and striving toward the southeast–which is the direction in which the migrate, come the fall.”
“That’s very interesting.” I pulled my hair back into a tail, lifting it off my neck for coolness. “But it’s not quite the time to migrate, is it, in late summer? And they don’t fly at night, do they, even when they migrate?”
“No. It was as though they felt the imminence of flight, and the pull of it–and that disturbed their rest. The stranger it was, because most of the birds that he had were young ones, who had never yet made the journey; they hadna seen the place where they were bound, and yet the felt it there–calling to them, perhaps, rousing them from sleep.”
…”Zugunruhe,” he said softly… “The wakefulness of the wee birds, getting ready to leave on their long flight.”
“Does it mean anything in particular?”
“Aye. ‘Ruhe’ is stillness, rest. And ‘zug’ is a journey of some sort. So ‘zugunruhe’ is a restlessness–the restlessness before a long journey.”
-Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross
Condensed for your reading convenience
o O o
Tomorrow we fly for home and another wedding, NTS’s sister’s. I’m well pleased with this development, as I find the groom an excellent young man, and am delighted that we will be keeping him, so to speak. I’m also delighted to be seeing all of our friends and family again, especially now that (as of half an hour ago) all of the arrangements are finally made. Coordinating a family gathering from a different continent when not in possession of a house, car or cell phone is not easy, but it’s done now. Mostly perforce: If you can’t reach me to tell me about it, the problem doesn’t exist.
I’m so excited. And with it, completely useless for anything not directly related to travel. Or for much related to travel. I’ve been packing for three days, as packing the night before never fails to engender in me a strong feeling of antipathy for the trip in general and my luggage in particular. I’m still not sure exactly how to pack a silk dress to avoid wrinkles. I’m not sure it can be done, and am looking forward to ironing out the wrinkles in the heat of a Connecticut summer. NTS is certain he shall melt. To be sure, every time the weather turns nice,we have the conversation that goes like this:
BRID Looks like it’s going to be eighteen degrees tomorrow.
NTS Sooo hooottttt. Oh wait, that’s only 64 Fahrenheit. Never mind.
BRID Wow, you’ve really gone native. Let me check your ears, I think there may be haggis leaking out of them.
If the natives are leery of temperatures over 20 C, it’s no surprise: the record high in Edinburgh is 31.4 C (88.5 F). The average high for August is just 18.9 C (66 F).
I grudgingly dug into the back of my wardrobe for my two skimpiest tank tops, saved specially for this occasion. That is, the occasion of summer. I shall not so much melt as burn to a fiery crisp, sunscreen notwithstanding.
It was in a bone-melting August that I first packed for Scotland, with the result that my arrival in . Now, in the cool and breezy summer of Scotland, I dig into my memories of that time and root in the wardrobe for the clothes that I mistakenly packed then, that get so little use here and are so appropriate to summer in (southern) New England. I shall, no doubt, complain of the heat within the first hour, but at the moment it remains an interesting concept, a distant and hazy memory of another life.
Although the haziness may have been caused by humidity, not time.