Algy rose early the next morning and flew up to the highest point on the headland, then onwards around the mountain to the place where the forest looks out across a deep freshwater loch. It was a fine morning for a change, and soft, white autumn mists were drifting across the loch and the hills in the distance. This was one of Algy’s favourite inland spots, so he leaned back against the drying bracken in the morning sun and slowly drank in the view, happy and relieved that he had been returned safely to his home. The autumn landscape reminded him of a poem about another wild place at this time of year:

          The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
          And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
          Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
          Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.

          A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
          A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
          Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
          An aging whiskey of distances and departures.

          Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
          My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
          I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
          Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.

[Algy is quoting the poem Beyond the Red River by the 20th century American poet Thomas McGrath.]


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