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A Highland Carol by Alioth

A Highland Carol


Grey blankets the sky, and the sun is seen high but distant - indistinct, as if seen through frosted glass. The land sleeps below, tired and weary from the autumn rains. Snow begins to fall, a few wayward flakes floating lazily to earth at first, then joined by others, then more. The sleeping ground, hardened from the bitter cold, readily accepts its alabaster blanket, and a light breeze begins to lovingly but coldly caress the frigid air.

A hush settles over the highlands. All seems dead and bleak. But there is life. A sound is heard, carried on the breeze over the snow. Just a low drone at first - but there is warmth in the drone. A moment later, the reedy cry of the bagpipes is heard. Then the snap of a snare drum’s timbre. And then a moment later, the warm, loving call of the flute as it carries the Christmas message over the air: there is light in the darkest places, and hope in the darkest times.

"Lift up your heads, all who wander in darkness;

Shine, for your light has come.

Down through the ages, though sin’s battle rages,

Christ, our Messiah, has won!”

* * *

Inspired by this piece of music (instrumental).

This is a deeply personal piece for me. I wanted to do a Christmas-themed portrait of Alioth, but there was a piece of highland music (see the above link) that I couldn’t get out of my head, and it evolved into an idea for this drawing. This will be my first Christmas without my grandmother, who died on 23 August after complications from a severe stroke. She always supported my art and my music and my writing - I’m really going to miss her. But Christmas is a time for hope, and for remembering things fondly, and for wonderful music.

I hope all of you, whether you observe Christmas or not, have a wonderful holiday season.

The four lines of lyrics in the description come from this song.

The plaid on the scarf is the actual tartan of my clan (I’m of Scottish descent), MacKenzie.

Submission Information

Visual / Digital

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