Steve is a Shaw. Unbeknownst to me, this makes him a member of a major Scottish clan, and he is quite proud of this heritage. So, this summer, we found and attended, not one, but two separate Scottish Games. The first one took place at the beautiful Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California. Mr. Dunsmuir came to America and built this wonderful estate for his woman. I continue to point this out to Steve. At any rate, it was a wonderful day full of sun, sheep dogs, and meat pies. Ah, the meat pie. A wonderful concoction of ground meat and oats in a crispy shell, covered with gravy. A bit heavy on a hot summers day, but quite tasty. And, no I did not eat any haggis. Steve has actually found a recipe for haggis. I told him he could find the sheep’s bladder and spend hours cooking the meal, but there was no chance I would eat it. So far, I’ve been spared.
Another fascinating aspect to a day at the Highland Games is, in fact, the games aspect. The athletic events of the day were a site to behold. It seems that all Scottish athletics originated in a burst of testosterone (and possibly Scotch) induced fervor. These are actual events. The hammer toss: A man (or woman) swings a sledge hammer around his head in a circle, much like a discus thrower, and throws it as far as he can. To put the stone: Picture a high jump bar. A man stand’s backwards under it and throws a huge weight over his head, trying to clear the bar (and step out of the way of the falling stone). And, of course, the Caber Toss: A man picks up a 20 foot, one hundred pound log by one end, balances it against his shoulder, takes a running start and tries to hurl it end over end. At this particular day, we saw a world champion caber tosser, a senior at that, put many younger men to shame.
I tried to convince Steve that, if this old man could toss the caber, surely a spry young man such as himself could do it. Steve mumbled something about hernias and scurried away.
These athletics events only got more exciting at our next Scottish outing. This time, the spectacle was much bigger, taking place at the Alameda Fairgrounds. In the grandstand, we were treated to the World Championships of the Scottish Athletic Association. Before I go into any detail, a theory. Why, one might ask, would the World Championships of the Scottish Athletic Association be held in Pleasanton, California and not in Scotland. I think the people of Scotland no longer indulge in these events, while the nostalgic descendants, struggling to find their heritage continue the tradition. Whatever the case, there were television crews there taping the proceedings for broadcast. On this day, we saw the World Championship throw in the caber toss! It was a burly young man who managed to get the caber over at a perfect 12 o’clock position. My blood raced! It was fantastic. Steve and I were also treated to the additional women’s competition. This included the Farmer’s Walk: A woman hold two 70 pound weights, on in each hand like milk pails, and walks, get this, AS FAR AS SHE CAN!!!! I doesn’t get any better, baby!
To make the day even better, Steve found his clan tent. It was heartwarming to see.
We spent several hours at the Games, and ate more meat pies. I think we’ll need to go again next summer. If only I can convince Steve to participate in the events. . .