I have a new scrap of Scottish vocabulary, which I learned recently from a rugby teammate. ‘Dondering’, or ‘going for a donder,’ is roughly the same as taking a stroll. Although I’ve started using a lot of new terms in the two months I’ve been in Scotland, there isn’t much else in my new vocabulary that is specifically Scottish. In a country that has its own dialect, there must are plenty of words that wouldn’t be heard anywhere else in the English-speaking world, and yet I haven’t come across very many of them. Maybe this speaks to my experience of Scotland in general. I’ve spent the last few months figuring out the basics: coursework, television laws, buses (and trains), and grocery stores, and as a result I have gotten to know my own part of the city quite well. Yet there is a lot more of Edinburgh to see, and once in a while it’s good to take a wee donder.
Lately, it’s been impossible not to. The snow started falling over Edinburgh a week ago Friday (unhappily, during rugby training) and by now the city has become a Dickensian scene. A beautiful city already, every roof and windowsill and railing is now coated in a layer of white. The Castle is especially spectacular, mounted up on the cliffs at the top of the Royal Mile. Last Saturday night on my way home from a St. Andrew’s dinner I couldn’t help taking a detour along High Street (the more common name for the Royal Mile), just to see the medieval street in the snow. It was absolutely picturesque, with Christmas lights on every lamppost, and other revelers, mostly students leaving the clubs, having snowball fights across the cobblestones.
I was out again the following day, this time with my flatmate Callie to visit the German Christmas Market at the Princes St. Gardens. It is a tradition in the city (and I believe much of Europe) to have a festive-looking arrangement of market stalls set up in a pedestrian walk selling crafts and treats, including mulled wine, and my favourite discovery, currywurst. Our day at the market was the perfect snowy day: the whole city was transformed by the weather and it seemed that everyone in Edinburgh outside to enjoy it while the daylight lasted (the sun is setting around 4pm lately).
That was more than a week ago, and amazingly Edinburgh is still experiencing a proper Canadian winter. (Although they could definitely learn a few things from us about snow removal.) I’m told that it’s very unusual to get this much snow, especially in November, and to have it last this long. Personally I don’t mind the weather, despite the icy sidewalks and lack of rugby. This is probably the most charming setting I’ve ever been in, and while the snow lasts I’ll continue to enjoy my winter donders and mulled wine.