Edinburgh Castle, November 2015
A cold, rainy day…perfect for this particular exploration. Perched high above the city, it was easy to imagine the monarchs of old keeping watch over their subjects. This fortress was built to endure, its walls as strong as the spirit of the Scots.
Still, I couldn’t help wondering if its builders could have imagined the invading forces of tourists swarming the ramparts and towers and chambers of their keep. Would they be mortified? Terrified? Proud of their enduring legacy?
A solitary soldier fired a single shot from a thoroughly modern cannon at precisely 1:00 pm. A crowd gathered in the quarter-hour prior to this heralded event, staking out the perfect viewing position. As the uniformed man marched ceremoniously to his post, they raised their phones to record the event. I did not. I watched it happen, not through a viewfinder or a 3-inch screen, but through my own eyes. I decided to experience the (brief) pageantry instead of committing it to posterity.
When the cannon fired, the crowd collectively gasped and shrieked, myself included. And then we all laughed at ourselves for being startled by the explosion. We could not have expected anything but a reverberating bang, yet in our eagerness to participate in this daily ritual, we forgot about its inevitability.
Afterward, I sat in the castle’s tea room, warming myself with some Earl Grey. The couple next to me — I don’t know where they were from — seemed to be at odds. The fault apparently lied with the handsome man, who reached out to his companion for affection that wasn’t reciprocated. When he stepped away to find the loo and got lost, she rolled her eyes and snorted derisively. The climate of their conversation was as cold and gloomy what awaited me outside that warm haven.