Picture This: Horned Guardian of the Oa

by Keith Savage · 8 comments


Islay’s Oa Peninsula seems to stretch on in trackless infinity. Hilly farmsteads and wide, empty wastes run off to the winds pulling electric blue across the heavens. I park the car and hike over grassy mounds and mucky declivities toward a spire in the distance: the American Monument, a marker for those that died on the HMS Tuscania from a German submarine in WWI. The familiar damp embrace of sea air slips inside my coat as I make way into the shade of a hillock. Deep, animalistic moans hammer my ears, and I break my downcast gaze to find myself surrounded by massive, shaggy beasts. Some say Highland Cow, others say Heelan’ Coo, and, at that moment, I thought: horned guardian of the Oa.

The beast towered over me, still as a stone yet blowing in the wind. Beneath his furry brow, I imagined he judged whether I was fit to pass into the lands beyond. My deference was his posture: a head bow, a returned look, stillness. This natural majesty is leaving the world, and we have cordoned off its fade from our view. I might have stayed there a lot longer had I not feared gory retribution. Then again, animals seem not ruled by such petty afflictions, humanity.


Traveling TedNo Gravatar October 16, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Great shot with the amazing blue sky and clouds in the background. See you Tuesday at the Chicago Meet, Plan, Go event.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Thanks Ted! Look forward to meeting you.

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wandering educatorsNo Gravatar October 15, 2011 at 6:49 AM

great shot! hope you were behind a fence! LOL!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 16, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Actually no – I was walking through their pasture. Thankfully they didn’t decided to gore me.

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KenNo Gravatar October 15, 2011 at 6:22 AM

Love those things. Somehow, they seem so Scottish. I recall someone who must have taken 50 pictures of “heelan’ coos”.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 16, 2011 at 12:12 PM

They are enchanting creatures.

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PhilNo Gravatar October 14, 2011 at 1:59 PM

WHOA. Is that thing real? What a strange looking animal.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 16, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Hey Phil, definitely real. Highland cows are all over the place in Scotland. Aren’t they incredible?

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