Category Archives: Big Stone Gap

Zoom me up Scottie – –

Jack makes it just in time again – –

For a good few months we’ve been holding Zoom meetings every Sunday with some close friends in North Carolina, Virginia and Scotland. It’s an odd way to connect but better than nothing.

It’s kind of amazing for me that what seemed like science fiction just a few years ago is now normal – speaking to folk across the world while seeing them.

I worried back when we first started that we’d run out of things to talk about but it’s turned out quite the opposite – we actually tend to run on beyond the allotted hour. We all know each other’s houses so there’s often a conducted tour to show what’s been happening, holiday decorations and such. Our cats and dogs usually make an appearance as well. Some of us eat breakfast while we talk and others drink coffee, although the five hour time difference between the US and Scotland makes that weird as well.

Wendy is much more used to Zooming than me and she has a goodly number of different groups that she interacts with, and I occasionally wander past her and say hello. Our good friend Liz in Ireland hosts a massive Zoomed storytelling event every Saturday night and often has thirty or forty folk connecting from all over the world, whereas we just have four lots of two and we only chat.

Of course there are lots of examples of folk wandering into the bathroom with their i-pads while remaining connected, but we’ve managed to avoid that – although only just!

The biggest problem is the latency issue, so there’s a slight delay which makes natural conversation really difficult, and I am sure that the most-used phrase of 2020, besides “Do you have toilet paper?” is “Your mic is on mute.”

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, blue funks, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Wendy Welch

Let There be Light – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post is on time for a change – – –

As we head towards Christmas we will first of all encounter the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. Of course that’s no coincidence as most Christian celebrations throughout the year align with pre-Christian festivals.

The solstice was celebrated as the point where the days will begin to lengthen and the next growing season could be anticipated. In Scotland the sun was encouraged through the lighting of bonfires and fire festivals. One example is the ‘burning of the clavie’ at Burghead which continues to this day. Of course the yule log is another link back to these ancient times as are the candles on the tree.

I grew up in Scotland where at this time of the year daylight doesn’t appear until ten in the morning and goes around four in the afternoon. In fact, in the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland the days are even shorter right now. There is a well-documented condition all over northern Europe called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression which occurs in alignment with the winter months.

Here in SW Virginia it isn’t as bad as it is further north, but as I write this it’s dull and sleeting outside and the lights in our house are on at eleven in the morning.

Many people, including myself, have been significantly restricted throughout the year by the pandemic, but we have been able to do work in our yard to keep us occupied and sane. But with the lack of daylight and the drop in temperature that is much less possible.

I never really suffered from SAD but I have to admit that on the evening of December 21st I would be cheered by burning a few yule logs in our fire pit and beginning to see the days start to lengthen again!

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Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch