Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Is a Critter?

For those of you not born in the Southern part of the USA, a critter is a nice word for a varmint. Possums are critters, squirrels, deer, etc. It's considered the height of hilarity to refer to a pet as a critter. If you go camping, and pick up critters and bring them home with you, it's not good. It generally means you have chiggers, or scabies or some other horrifying bug.

In Scotland, the critters are limited. Nothing insect-like can survive those temperatures. Cats are popular, being small and cute. We lived with a cat in Inverness called Mickey Mouse. As noted in the ferry blog, Scottish Terriers and Border Collies are quite picturesque and appropriate. We ran into the Norfolk, a sturdy breed of horse which resembles a Morgan, and then Shetlands. The Shetland Islands are right above Orkney. The horses are small, pudgy and hairy because of the wind, cold, and proximity to the Arctic. We didn't visit because even Marc and I have some standards. We weren't prepared for travel that far north, and they were probably inaccessible due to ice.

We stopped on the way to Orkney to see a deer. Now, this is the Red deer, a native of England and Scotland, but my American readers are thinking, "Why would anyone stop to see a deer?" Which is what Marc and I looked at each other. My English readers are thinking, "Hey, they got to see a deer!" We stopped the vehicle and all got out, ALL of us, to see one deer standing on a hill. Marc was looking at it through a telephoto lens and almost refused to give it to me. He handed it over and looked at me as if I had just popped out with a set of wings. He climbed back on board the bus, saying, I'll take a picture when I get home.

It's just another reminder of just how old the Old World is. We stopped to see trees as well, and our guide to Skye told us 'they' are rebuilding the ancient Caledonian Forest, i.e. the gigantic forest that used to cover Scotland before people needed the wood for fire, etc. We could see the need for trees, but trying to preserve deer takes a stretch of imagination for an American. We do all we can to avoid the deer, who like throwing themselves in front of vehicles to see what kind of noise they can make.

And we didn't get to see the famous Puffins on Orkney. It was way to cold for even them.

Next: London on Easter Sunday. No kidding.

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