Picture This: One Moment of Orcadian Light

by Keith Savage · 8 comments


Rain sheets off the drystone croft’s slate roof as my breath fogs the windowpane. The blind world loses itself in hysteric gales and gusts, its reedy voice keening through stone walls and over rooftops like a bow upon a fiddle string. In the dour absence of light we measure the passing day in pints and drams, nestled in our watery holes like shivering voles. I watch birds streak across the sky in reckless parabolas, etching clovers of flight in my sun-starved eyes. The wind does not relent. Seafingers, cold as winter rain, rake across Orkney’s rolling, barren hills, aching to add men and his works to its collection of trees and light.

Then, as the Jura runs low, a line of fire burns across the belly of the sky. My dad and I knife through the elements and skid to a halt on the flagstones in the yard. A kaleidoscope of light ricochets through the rain hanging in the air. There are standing stones and burial cairns and dark age brochs across Orkney gleaming in this blast of sun. Thousands of years of Orcadian tempests have failed to undo these human birthmarks. And I think, I have been so quick to retreat inside when the fog descends and the light fades. The clouds continue spitting toward the setting sun, and my shaggy hair and clothes whip and snap like flags in the wind.


Keith SavageNo Gravatar June 20, 2012 at 6:53 PM

I really appreciate the comments. Thanks all.

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Daniel MeloyNo Gravatar June 20, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Beautifully composed. Stirring for the mind and captivating for the eyes. Well done.

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AndreaNo Gravatar May 21, 2012 at 1:42 AM

That is so gorgeous, it doesn’t even look real! It looks like a painting…good work!

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AndiNo Gravatar May 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Wow, absolutely gorgeous!

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KenNo Gravatar May 19, 2012 at 6:46 AM

This will be one of my compelling memories of Orkney. The exhilaration of the storm, the quickness of the change from rain or sleet to sun, and the unrelenting presence of the wind on this mysterious island. The photograph is bested only by the verbal imagery that recreates the sense of it all so well. Can it really have been only a few days ago?

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM

I know, still less than a week ago. Amazing how quickly things can become mythologized.

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LindaNo Gravatar May 18, 2012 at 3:59 PM

Utterly stunning, words and photograph. How you take what so many take for granted and see the drama and the beauty!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 18, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Thanks Linda.

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