vignettes

The City of the Dead

by Keith Savage · 4 comments

St. Mungo's Cathedral, Glasgow

Glasgow, Scotland | September 18, 2011

There was a moment when the sun dodged the clouds, and I realized I was the only terrestrial soul on this hillock of half a hundred thousand dead. The hollow voice of St. Mungo’s Cathdral, an awful and awesome nitred-stained edifice, echoes across Glasgow’s struggling east end. The Sunday morning vortex pulls parishioners across the cigarette butt-strewn cobblestones and into the church’s Gothic arches. I tramp across too lush grass, the site of untold unmarked graves, and stalk down the streets of the Necropolis, Glasgow’s city of the dead. I hadn’t come to worship.

St. Mungo’s, née Kentigern, stands on a small hill now tight to other buildings, and every attempt to capture the ornate medieval structure on film was cast skyward, futilely.
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Eagle Island

by Keith Savage · 3 comments

Tobermory Sky

A gaggle of seagulls circle and hiccaw in the sky above Tobermory Bay, seeking easy pickings as the catch comes in. Peeling fishing boats, schooners with folded sails, small ferries, and sleek speedboats bob in orderly rows beneath the broken cloud cover dressing in oranges and pinks for the sun’s farewell. Ravens and buzzards fleck the sky, and a host of typically small birds dip and dart among the buildings and streets. A kind of false homeostasis reigns, for Mull’s coast and lochs were once home to kings of the sky: the massive white-tailed sea eagles. Slandered as livestock menaces, poisoned with foul bait, and greedily shot from the sky, the sea eagles’ home and very lives were snatched away by its only predator.

Man.
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No Stranger

by Keith Savage · 11 comments

Dervaig, Isle of Mull, Scotland

Isle of Mull, Scotland | September 10 & 11, 2011

Sunbeams cant off the roofs of tiny Dervaig and ripen the leaves of the surrounding forest. From where I stand, on a hill just south of town, it’s a painting of someone’s beloved home. The violent storms of Scotland’s west coast have drifted into the east, revealing ragged patches of blue sky and strips of scudding clouds. The sight of Mull in the sun elicits a whispered thanks. I press on into town and step into the Bellachroy Hotel’s pub just as men have done for 400 years. Rich woods and polished gold make a warm atmosphere in which patrons of all ages bat back and forth friendly words and raucous laughter. It’s Saturday afternoon; where else would the town be? Read more...

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Fathering the Sun

by Keith Savage · 2 comments

Perspective at Bruichladdich Distillery

Bruichladdich, Islay, Scotland | September 6, 2011

The Rhinns of Islay cup the western edge of surly Loch Indaal and hunker down like sheep behind a mound as Hurricane Irene’s death rattle shrieks from across the Atlantic. Horizontal, straight-line rain batters the white-washed village of Bruichladdich, arriving between intermittent torrents of wind and sun. Centered on its only road, the distillery dominates the town, built of stone off the sea shore and cradling a massive courtyard like a castle, some vision from a dark-age king. Inside the visitor’s center with its low ceiling and cozy gloom, the door to the rain opens and a rail of a man, not dissimilar to the island’s wizened and weathered standing stones, enters the shop. Read more...

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Crossing Kildalton

by Keith Savage · 6 comments

The Kildalton Church and Cross, Islay

Islay, Scotland | September 4, 2011

Islay’s boggy moors peek above the encircling sea like the backside of a drowned sailor. Water wells up into every footprint. How many will it take to send the island back beneath the sea? At Port Askaig, the monstrous MV Finlaggan unloads its berth beneath a low-slung sky white as a centenarian’s crown. Winds, lathed off the sea, whicker in the car frame and buoy scents of rotting, bulbous seaweed. There is a belief that the farther one gets from civilization, the closer one gets to his own humanity. My skin is clammy and the air damp as I speed south toward Port Ellen, sinking with every passing mile.
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