Dedicated to ‘Star’
I was so sad to hear of the passing of ‘Star the lynx’ today from the Five Sisters Zoo- the most stunning creature I have ever set eyes on.
As a young art student at Edinburgh College of Art one of my most fondest memories were my free day passes as a first year student to Edinburgh Zoo- spending endless hours drawing animals in their gardens or sitting five feet from a Gorilla between a single pain of glass with my drawing board and pencils.
But on a visit with my children a few summers ago to the Five Sisters Zoo- I was captivated by one new animal I had never seen in real life before.
The most graceful creature I have ever met.
So beguiling that she became the inspiration for one of my Young Adult fantasy books ‘The Game Keepers’ and one of my leading characters ‘Spiorad’.
For those of you who visited ‘Star’ or have never had the pleasure of seeing such a stunning creature as the great Lynx this is my tribute to one of most stunning creatures that once roamed the Highlands of Scotland.
Extract from ‘The Game Keepers’ Chapter 3 ‘A’Geamairean’
............Without realising I soon nodded off to sleep and some time later awoke to a fireplace full of cinders and ashes and the noise of Polly whimpering at the kitchen door.
I noticed from the old clock on the fireplace that it was close to midnight and opened the door to let Polly outside, only to hear the same eagles call echoing from the standing stones. As I stood in the doorway and before I could reach for Polly’s collar, she began scampering down the hill in the direction of the stream. Instantly I grabbed her dog’s leash slipped on my football boots and threw mums old Mackintosh jacket on, carefully closing the cottage door behind me before I began sprinting down the hill after her.
Amongst the darkness I followed the light from the full moon down and across the shallow stream, carefully treading over the large boulders and outcrops of stone. Luckily Polly became startled and stopped frozen in her tracks on the other side of the stream. As I reached the clearing before the standing stones both of us stopped and stared as the hypnotic purple haze emerging from the field, captivating us and beckoning us to come closer. But this time it wasn’t just the sound of an Eagles call we could hear but an orchestration of different creatures and beasts bellowing, howling and whistling in unison like a tribal dance.
As I approached the clearing of the standing stones I could feel myself being drawn into the centre of the circle while Polly started barking fiercely at the largest standing stone. I looked up from the centre of the stone circle to the sky just as the full moon and sun crossed each others path. Instantly I felt the earth below rumble and shake as the standing stones began to dislodge from their roots and a frantic haze of colours began to circle around us as if I we were in the centre of a tornado. One at a time each of the stones gradually transformed from solid outlines to giant hazy autumnal silhouettes. Confused and disorientated I fell to my knees pressing my eyes closed. Terrified and fearful that the world was about to end I franticly held on to Polly with all my might.
A few minutes passed which seemed like an eternity, when eventually I built up the courage to slowly open my eyes. As I stared at the ground everything suddenly stopped spinning and slowly changed from darkness to daylight with the warmth of a bright summer’s day slowly piercing the back of my neck. A few seconds later I could feel the shadow and breathe of someone hovering above me and then the sound of a large rebounding female voice:
‘Welcome we are the Gamekeepers!’
I took a seconds glance around me realising that the six standing stones had disappeared and in its place stood five giant silhouettes. For the first time in my life I was speechless. I stood transfixed to the spot as I realised that I was in the presence of one of Natures most stunning creatures. I stared up at the poised oversized Scottish Lynx towering above me at six metres tall with her distinctive sharp triangular ears tipped with long sharp fine tufts of hair extended like fine pointed peacock feathers that reminded me of a regal female Chieftain. Her short reddish brown topcoat and white silky undercoat that extended from her stomach to her neckline were accentuated by her exotic ruff facial whiskers which were like a sharp pointed white beard shaven at the chin. Her beguiling stillness and stature supported her reputation as one of the largest predators after the brown bear and wolf. A Wildcat my grandad spoke of often for its stealth, speed, and ability to jump seven metres in one leap due to its the athleticism with a short torso, long legs, short bobbed tail and large furred feet with sharp strong hooked claws.
Once again, in a loud powerful voice she proclaimed:
‘Welcome we are the warriors & protectors of the Highlands I believe you are the one we have all been waiting for!’