Forgiving yourself is the first step, but helping others forgive may be just too hard.
Rachel Cullen grew up in Scotland with a fiddle in her hand from the age of four. She couldn’t imagine life as anything but a musician. When her husband brought her to America she was immediately embraced by the Celtic and Bluegrass communities. But after her divorce, Rachel’s life is a mess.
A year of trying to prove to herself that she’s woman enough for any man, and then a vicious rape while on tour with the band, leaves Rachel reeling. When she meets Noel Kershaw, an English teacher who is poetry in motion, she is definitely attracted. But he has a young child and he’s suffering from his own divorce. The last thing Rachel needs in life is more baggage.
First, Rachel must reconcile who she is, what she wants, and how to get there. Maybe then she’ll know how to be a part of the family she’s always wanted.
As she reached for the handle, the door opened and a little girl rushed out, maybe six or seven years old, with beautiful long blond hair caught up in a blue denim bow. She ran to a light blue sedan next to Rachel’s and giggled as she skipped through puddles circling the car. Rachel couldn’t help but smile at the child’s carefree innocence.
After three circles, the girl stopped at the back end of the car, cocked her head and waved two fingers at her. “Hi.”
“Um, hi.” Rachel raised her hand and waved back. “Did you forget somebody? Your mommy maybe?”
“Claire, I told you to stay close.”
At the sound of the tenor voice beside her, Rachel started. A man three to four inches taller than her had stepped out. In one hand he held several colorful ribbons attached to a bright pink, heart-shaped helium balloon that read Happy Birthday. He looked toward the car where the child was still giggling.
The little girl raced back. Skidding to a stop in front of Rachel, they bumped and Rachel teetered slightly toward the wall.
“Careful there.” A weathered hand reached toward her and wrapped around her elbow. His touch was softer than she expected, but her knees still locked, ready to spring if she needed to move fast. He held her up with one hand. Deep brown eyes, emphasized by his full head of short, wavy blonde hair, looked at her then turned toward the girl.”
“Apologize, Claire. You almost knocked her over.”
“I’m sorry.” A small hand lifted to touch her other arm.
“That’s okay. Really. I should have been paying more attention.” Rachel smiled and pointed to the balloon. “Latha breith.”
“Oh, I…” She had lapsed into Gaelic. Something she hadn’t done in public since Kavan left her almost three years ago. “I said ‘Happy Birthday.’”
Celtic Music and Culture – A Foundation to Today’s American Music
My Sweetwater Canyon series is about an all-women Americana band as they travel the festival circuit, grow in popularity, find themselves, and meet the loves of their lives. They play what is called “roots” music –based in the music brought to America primarily by Irish and Scots in the mid to late 1800’s and which has been the foundation for country, bluegrass, and most folk music in America today. In Healing Notes, the second book of the Sweetwater Canyon series, the heroine is a fiddle player originally from Scotland. Therefore her story focuses more on the Celtic music the band plays that is indicative of her cultural background.
I’ve always loved Celtic Music. I have many childhood memories of my mother singing tunes like Danny Boy (I know written by an Englishman, but in America still thought of as Irish) and many of the traditional sea shanties of Ireland and Scotland. These songs were also mixed in with hymns and blues like Swing Low Sweet Chariot. She sang tunes of grieving for several weeks as she washed dishes after my brother died at the age of five. She sung traditional lullabies to each of her nine children. (I am the first born, so I do have a memory of those songs). Traditional music was a part of my everyday life.
My paternal great-grandmother, a mix of Scottish and Irish came to the U.S. as a young woman after the Irish potato famine. The quintessential rebellious redhead and staunch Catholic lived to be 101 years old. I remember her love of traditional songs, along with plenty of advice on how to live my life. My husband’s ancestry is purely Irish on his father’s side. With this shared heritage between us, it was natural that we would choose to marry and honeymoon in the lands of our ancestors and seek out the music we both loved.
We married in Dunoon, Scotland and honeymooned in the highlands of Scotland and Ireland. We spent almost every evening of our honeymoon in a local pub enjoying a pint and listening to traditional Celtic music, usually as part of a “session” or a Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee)—a gathering of traditional musicians and dancers. Sessions were announced via flyers (probably announced by twitter today) with no particular plan or playlist in mind, just the love of music and of playing together and learning from each other. Any musicians in the area are invited to come, no RSVP required. The pub will often spot the musicians beer because they know the music brings in the crowds. The musicians then take turns deciding what to play. The sessions can last from two to four hours, depending on the crowd and the time the pub has to close.
Sometimes my husband would join in the music, playing guitar. He grew up playing bluegrass and old timey music so the chords and many of the tunes were familiar to him. The most memorable session we attended was in Ullapool, Scotland where the usual guitars, fiddles, ullian pipes, Irish whistles, and bohdrans were joined by a visiting tourist from Australia who had a didgeridoo. The new musician was welcomed with open arms. It actually sounded amazingly wonderful, and natural, as he added those bass notes and rain sounds to the music! Is it any wonder I would eventually write a novel with a band playing traditional music?
Celtic music is based in folklore and sung for entertainment and remembrance. This is why so many tunes are about the lives of fisherman, loves gained and lost, and the hardships of every day life. With the invasion of their countries and the replacement, or attempted replacement of their culture and language, it is no wonder that this music has plenty of laments.
Chances are, if you have any European ancestry in your background, that there is some part Celt in you. Six nationalities constitute all that is “Celtic”. The Irish, Scottish, and Manx peoples form the group known as Gaels. The Cornish, Bretons, and Welsh peoples form the Brythonic group. The Celts were divided into different groups who lived in the European mainland. One group came to Ireland, and another came to Britain. The ones who came to Ireland were called Gaelic or Goidelic. The ones who came to Britain were called Brythonic. The Gaels lived in Ireland, and later conquered Scotland and the Isle of Man. The Brythonic lived in Britain, but were driven out of all of it except Wales and Cornwall by Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon invasions.
The two groups have some differences in the way they approach the traditional melodies that reflect the language differences that evolved during their separations. Also some of the traditional tunes have slightly different lyrics from one group to the next that reflects different experiences or rulers. Additionally, the Breton and Welsh melodies tend to be reduced by half an octave from the Gaelic group, and by the frequent use of the pure pentatonic scale—a scale that as five tones to the octave instead of the current eight-tone scale used today.
You don’t have to go beyond North America to experience the Gaelic culture. In addition to the Appalachians there are numerous pockets of Irish and Scottish settlers in America. Certainly, the traditional music is still alive and well and being revived by many young musicians today. In fact, traditional Irish and Scottish bands often tour more in America than they do in their own countries. For a complete cultural immersion outside of Europe, you may also want to visit Nova Scotia, a part of the Canadian maritime islands in the east. In parts of Nova Scotia Gaelic is still spoken. More than a hundred years ago, Irish Gaels settled in urban areas such as Halifax and Sydney and in pockets of rural Cape Breton. Scottish Gaels settled in large numbers in eastern Nova Scotia and throughout Cape Breton Island. Today, Celtic fiddle playing styles, along with Anglo-Irish folk songs and dance are lively and enjoyable parts of the Gaelic culture experience in Nova Scotia.
*Harlie here…I LOVE Celtic music. On my dad’s side its Irish and Scot-Irish. My maiden name is McCortney, so my dad made sure that my brother and I had an understanding of our heritage. Ireland and Scotland are #1 and #2 on the bucket list of places to visit. I’m afraid if I ever went, I’d never leave. My dad subscribes to magazines about Ireland and Scotland. *sigh* My mom is the only person in our house to ever go and she has told us it was beautiful, the people are phenomenal and the food not to her liking. LOL! She even kissed the Blarney Stone. Okay, enough of my gibberish. I do LOVE a set of bagpipes. *
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Maggie Jaimeson writes romantic women’s fiction and romantic suspense with a near future twist. She describes herself as a wife, a step-mother, a sister, a daughter, a teacher and an IT administrator. By day she is “geek girl” – helping colleges to keep up with 21st century technology and provide distance learning options for students in rural areas. By night Maggie turns her thoughts to worlds she can control – worlds where bad guys get their comeuppance, women triumph over tragedy, and love can conquer all.
HEALING NOTES is the second book in the Sweetwater Canyon Series of four books. The final two books will be available in 2013.
For print books:
Jan’s Paperbacks: http://www.janspaperbacks.com/