Picture This: Aging Light and Wood on Skye

by Keith Savage · 12 comments

Skye’s vast Trotternish peninsula harbors stands of colossal and forgotten trees. Here, beneath the stoic gaze of the Old Man of Storr, a race of giant conifers angled arms to catch the transient sun. I passed under the boughs in near darkness and followed the light like some hapless flapping insect. Cold air huddled amongst the trunks and water seeped over mossy roots before dripping into streamlets. This was only the beginning of a steep and taxing journey to the boulder-strewn upper reaches. Old darkness hung between me and the light.

The trees cradled a tunnel of radiance, and a couple who must have been a few years younger than me passed into it. The specter of age had become nearly corporeal here, and a confrontation loomed. I kicked across the muddy turf like a louse along a part and wondered at this liminal passage to the Old Man, a striking and singular slab of standing rock that commanded the eastern coast of the peninsula. Would I be judged? Would I manage to stagger into the light like them? I half-pondered stopping there in the shade of the ancients, replete, as I was, with my breath and youth and shuddering fears.

KatherineNo Gravatar July 19, 2011 at 7:27 AM

Oh my Gods, Keith! I’ve just started blogging about Isle of Skye today and popped over to your blog as it’s been a while. I recognised this photo from the Old Man of Storr hike. Remember you said that I’m a writer and I said that I’m really not? This is why. I’m dreading writing all these backlogged blog posts and am aiming to spend as little time as possible on each. Then I read this piece of crafted prose! I love that you noticed the streamlets too. I tried taking a photo of them but it didn’t turn out.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 19, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Thanks Katherine, but you are an excellent writer. I will not hear otherwise. I’m looking forward to your Skye posts!

Nomadic SamuelNo Gravatar July 11, 2011 at 3:43 PM

That’s a stunning/enchanting photo. I love how you’ve given it a sort of infrared edited finish. As Dave & Deb mentioned above your words contribute an added dimension.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 19, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Thanks Samuel.

Dave and DebNo Gravatar July 11, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Wow, absolutely gorgeous. Both the photo and the words. You have a gift Keith.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 11, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Thanks you guys. You two are magnificent photographers!

MikeachimNo Gravatar July 10, 2011 at 5:33 AM

“Old darkness hung between me and the light.”

Nailed it. Favourite thing I’ve read all week.

In forests like that, especially the seemingly endless varieties north of Perth, I feel ghostly, drifting through a crowded room where everyone is oblivious to my presence and everyone is speaking a language I can’t understand. Yet somehow, not lonely-feeling. It’s just that the trees have better, more fascinating things to be doing than paying attention to me, things born of hundreds of years of experience I can’t even guess at. As anthropomorphic as that is…well, I kinda like that feeling.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar July 10, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Thanks Mike! I get the sense that you read A LOT each week so I treasure those words. And I agree with your characterization of the forests. I had a thought yesterday that what if trees are the most evolved beings on the planet. Like what if they were once sapien and sentient like we are but have evolved into what they are now: stoic, simple, and yet unutterably complex and sophisticated. Weird, ridiculous, fanciful? Yes, yes, yes.

MikeachimNo Gravatar July 10, 2011 at 10:54 AM

I think humans, with their hasty, nervous, self-doubting, clumsy, short-sighted, hypercaffeinated ways…have a lot to learn from trees.

(Is this how hippies start out? Oh god).

DarlaNo Gravatar June 20, 2014 at 1:14 PM

They are! Exquisite prose…thank you.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar June 22, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Cheers Darla!

ErinNo Gravatar July 9, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Wow, that’s a beautiful image Keith.

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