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Lone Cottage: Isle of Skye

June 1, 2021

There are many hardscrabble mountains in Scotland colored in pastels by a variety of stones, grasses, and low-lying plants. During this trip in October, 2019, there was early snow on the peaks and along with the melt and the routine rain, it seemed as if the bare mountains were weeping, water streaking their sides. The water collects into rivulets, becoming torrents, crashing into streams, cascading into falls, then flowing into lochs. It’s the same almost everywhere you look, at least this time of year on Skye in western Scotland. The mountains stand proudly, witnesses to so much history and struggle; early Celts, Picts, Vikings, Caledonians, Romans, Kings and Queens of England, France, highlanders, clans, invaders, one group trying to dominate, others trying to integrate, all flowing together to form such a proud ancestry of common bonds. In the midst of this landscape, a proud farmer decides to build a lone cottage, isolated from his neighbors, alone in the wilderness, perhaps to attract a woman to start their own clan. As a way to domesticate part of the land, he erects a fence and plants some evergreens as a statement to proclaim, “I can survive here! I can farm this land, I can raise some sheep or cattle. This land is mine.“

Some have looked at this image and sensed the isolation of the landscape, the loneliness of man’s place in this natural surround. Others, have looked at this image and immediately exclaimed, “Oh, I can live there!” -welcoming the peace and solitude. What do you see? Who do you think built this cottage? Were there other obvious signs of habitation and agriculture at one time? Does the cottage invite you to knock on the door, or perhaps be glad for your own private retreat? I for one resonate with this place. It is simultaneously awe inspiring and humbling. Our presence is so obviously temporary, the natural world more permanent, but at the same time all of it changing and flowing before our eyes. The photography workshop with Steve Gosling and Peter Cox brought our merry band together not just to capture some sights, but to enjoy the land and absorb the surroundings. I came away with so many good memories of friends, food, history, sounds, and a sense of this wonderful landscape.

I hope you enjoy this image. Spin your own story about the builder and inhabitants of the Lone Cottage. I’m grateful that it has been accepted in the Adams County Arts Council (ACAC) 2020-2021 Juried Arts Exhibition, June 3 – June 25, 2021 on display at the Gettysburg College Schmucker Art Gallery. The awards will be announced at the opening reception on Friday, June 4 from 5:00-7:30 (given COVID restrictions registration is required.) See below for the framed image.

Image Information: October 23, 2019 Fuji XT3, 55-200mm lens, at 55mm, f8, 1/40 sec., ISO 640

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