How Do Bagpipes Help Fill My Empty Nest?

I have a confession to make.  I love the bagpipes.  I know, it’s a really different instrument to love, but, I do. Today, I got to listen to bagpipes — lots of them. 

In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t in Scotland.  I don’t think I could even travel to Scotland right now, as much as I would like to. No, I was at The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, in the mountains of western North Carolina, one of the largest Highland Games in the world.  It was marvelous, especially since the event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic

When you live in an empty nest, and you want to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse, you need to find things you both enjoy.  My husband and I are different in many ways.  I love to read but he would rather watch sports on television.  He enjoys playing golf but I would rather go shopping.  He could eat barbecue every day of the week but, while I don’t dislike barbecue, I like to mix it up a little.  One thing we do have in common is that we enjoy music, especially folk music.  That is the main thing that draws us to The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Oh, sure, there are the competitions to watch; piping, dancing, throwing and tossing various heavy things and racing.  There’s an interesting sheep herding demonstration with some incredible sheep dogs.  It’s alway fun to walk around the track and check out the tents and tartans of the various clans.  (His mom was a Bean and there’s a MacBean Clan.  My dad’s middle name is Wardlaw and there is a Wardlaw clan).  A huge combined pipe and drum band, clad in kilts and tartans, circles the track and there’s plenty of yummy food to eat.

Our favorite thing, though, is to set up our chairs in one of the shady groves and listen to the music.  Today, we listened to mainly folk singers accompanied by the bagpipes, flutes, guitars, drums, bouzouki and bodhrán.  We got to hear one of our favorite groups, Piper Jones Band, twice. A woman singing in Scottish Gaelic was the most unusual but mesmerizing performance.  In past years we have also enjoyed listening to Celtic rock, bagpipes and all.  All of this takes place under a lush, green canopy of trees with huge boulders as a backdrop.  There is a small set of bleachers but most people bring their own chairs or sit on the ground in the natural amphitheater.

My husband and I first visited Scotland in 2014, for our 30th anniversary and fell in love with the country.  We visited Ireland on the same trip, where we enjoyed listening to hours of traditional folk music.  We returned to Scotland twice when our daughter was in graduate school in Edinburgh.  You can read about those trips in a couple of my earlier blog posts

We are already looking forward to next year’s Highland Games and our favorite concert spot.  In the meantime, we will enjoy the local music offerings in the mountains this summer, much of which has its roots in the music of the old country.  And, I bought a couple of CD’s I can listen to at home to remind me of this special day on Grandfather Mountain.

How about you?  If you’re an empty nester, what pastimes do you and your spouse enjoy?


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