On our very first morning, we woke up in our lovely, snug room at the Seven Stars in Hay-on-Wye, ate a full English breakfast, and loaded up the car. There was a problem with the rental car, and Denis had to exchange it in a city some miles away, leaving me to my own devices in the book capital of the UK.
|A "Proper Robin" in Wales|
Then I looked up into the branches of a tree and saw this fellow to the right watching us closely and singing his little heart out. "There you go!" Denis exclaimed. "Now that's a proper robin!" The robin kept singing in the tree and allowed me to take a few photos of him. I thanked him for his courtesy. Denis left, and I began wandering the streets of Hay-on-Wye. It's probably my imagination, but I'd like to think that the robin I saw a few times on the outskirts of town and again outside the library was the very same one that let me take his picture.
On our second trip to the UK, we spent a week in a cottage on the shore of a sea loch on the Isle of Skye. Almost within stone's throw was Dunvegan Castle. In fact, it was the first thing we saw from our front window. I watched a rainbow form over the castle while rabbits played and oyster catchers probed for tender morsels beneath its walls. It was magical.
|A "Proper Robin" in Scotland|
So yes, I have pleasant memories of those cheeky little birds, but when I read the following line in a book recently, my imagination took flight.
"Robins usually mean a lost loved one is trying to say hello."
I had wanted to travel to the UK since I was eight years old, so these trips-- especially the very first one-- were so exciting to me. But I couldn't prevent a tiny hint of sorrow to invade my thoughts. My mother and my grandmother-- the two people responsible for my knowing of my Scottish and English roots-- always wanted to travel to the UK... and they never did. I allowed myself to feel the sadness for a moment, then I vowed to see as much as I could while we were there in honor of the two most important women in my life.
Now... could it be that there's a grain of truth in that old saying about robins representing lost loved ones trying to say hello? Why not? My mother and grandmother loved birds and passed that love on to me. What better way for them to tell me, "Hello! I'm with you!" as I walked the land they'd always wanted to see? I can see my mother the librarian thinking the book capital of the UK was the best place to "make contact," and my grandmother, who loved her garden and her kitchen, would certainly choose the kitchen garden of a castle, wouldn't she?
It's probably foolish and sentimental, but that one line in a book and those two little birds so filled with personality make me feel as if my mother and grandmother did make their trip to the UK after all.