A word haunted every map, sign, and food cart I saw on Orkney. Peedie. What the hell? There was the Peedie Chippie (which made excellent fish and chips, incidentally), the Peedie Sea, Peedie anthems, and so on.
“Peedie” isn’t English. I’m pretty sure it’s not Norse. It doesn’t sound much like Scots. Finally I asked an innocent woman working behind the counter at a gift shop across from St. Magnus Cathedral: “What does Peedie mean?”
She seemed a bit embarrassed answering the question, like it wasn’t meant for the ears of visitors or that she was English. “It means small, or little,” she said as I paid for the peedie pack of Orkney fudge I’d chosen for Sarah. The origin of the word is unknown it seems.
Orkney is a close-knit place with an independent streak. I think they see themselves as different from the Scottish mainlanders, partially due to isolation, partially due to culture. Orkney was long part of the Norwegian kingdom. There’s still a strong Scandinavian presence in Orkney and, to speak generally, most Orcadians embrace it. It’s a peedie place that leaves a large impression. My last visit to Orkney happened during my honeymoon, and I’m happy to say I’m still enamored.
In case you’re wondering, it’s possible to drive from the nothernmost tip of mainland Scotland to Edinburgh in five hours. Talk about a peedie nation. And yet for all it lacks in sheer size it more than makes up for in the richness of its history, scenery, milieu of cultures, and – let’s face it – whisky. It’s why I keep coming back and digging.
I’m sitting in my dorm-like hotel room at the Edinburgh airport typing this and swilling Boddington’s while my dad snores on the twin bed next to me. Tomorrow we catch the noon flight to Newark and then it’s on to Milwaukee. Then on to Madison for me. Three weeks catalogued in photos, blog posts waiting to be written, and late-night Skype calls. Another trip complete.
It’s difficult to parse all of the emotions flitting about inside my head right now (see this for preamble). For as much as I love Scotland, it seems the more that I travel the more I come to love home and everyday life in Madison. Traveling solo has taught me more about myself than perhaps I’d like to know. For those lessons I’ve learned and ignored, Scotland has kindly reminded me again and again. (Traveling with my dad for three weeks has yielded an entirely new set of lessons 🙂 ). Whether or not Traveling Savage becomes the career I envisioned when I dreamed up this venture, after five trips I’m certainly a richer person.
I know, I’m blethering, as they say in Scotland.
But for such a peedie nation it sure has proven to be a large influence on my life.