dorothystewartblog

about writing and life and God

People of the cat

on October 1, 2012

On the train again, but heading south and, as last Monday, I find myself travelling with my back to the engine, looking back at where I’ve come from. And this time, I really am travelling from where I come from.

The week with my sister included research for the novel I’m working on but also plenty of time enjoying familiar places, bumping into people who knew me from way back… Caithness is where I come from. Where my forebears for many generations come from. (My sister is into family history and has traced each side of the family back to the 1700s.)

We are true northerners – a mix of Celt, Pict and Viking. This amazingly beautiful and wild northern country, unlike anywhere else in the world, is where my roots go down deep, very deep. And revisiting it has reminded me of who I really am.

I am not a townie. Not a suburbanite. I need sea – preferably wild rocky splashy sea. And the countryside I like isn’t the manicured sort. Again, I prefer wild…

The derivation of the name Caithness comes from the word CAT. My folk were the people of the cat – and we’re not talking fluffy house kitty here! Here in the north we have wildcats – a lynx-like creature with tufts on her pointy ears, a much larger body and broader, longer tail

When I was a child, staying with my grandmother at Berriedale, I could hear the wildcats scream in the night and it was a sound I thrilled to. These are the creatures who have given their name to my county and my people.

As I return to the suburban, manicured English south – that green and pleasant land – I hope I won’t feel the need to hide the wildcat and pretend to be a house kitty! I’m already pondering where I can find the kind of countryside and sea coast that I like – and now know I need.

Or maybe I should save my pennies and visit my sister more often!

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