Algy flew out onto the rocks, and found a perch that was reasonably sheltered from the cold north wind. The tide was high, and most of the beach was covered. As he looked back towards the shore he marvelled at the beautiful colours of the sea: shimmering turquoise over the pale sand, and a mixture of deep blues and purples over the swirling beds of seaweed. On a day like this it was hard to believe that this was north-west Scotland and not some more exotic location, but the icy wind ruffling his hair feathers soon reminded him where he really was 🙂

After two days of remarkably wintry weather, with driving showers of sleet and even snow, the sky cleared and the sun emerged at last. Algy felt that he must go down to the sea again, so he flew over to the beach and was delighted to find a bleached tree trunk cast up by the storms onto the rocks. It made an ideal perch, so he sat there for quite some time, enjoying a wee bit of warmth from the spring sun and marvelling at the crystal clear sharpness which the cold air from the Arctic had brought to everything.

Although it was bright, it was a bitterly cold day, with a strong icy wind blowing straight from the Arctic. So Algy flew down to the warmest spot he know – the flat red rocks by the side of the blue burn. It was sheltered there, and the sun warmed the rocks nicely, so he made himself comfortable and spent a happy Sunday afternoon just watching the water flow by.

Algy hopes that you are all enjoying your Sunday in a comfortable spot too 🙂

The mist blew away again, and the sun was shining once more. Algy took his wee friend from Germany, the little black teddy, to admire a fine patch of cowslips, and they settled down beside the flowers to enjoy the sunshine. Algy opened his battered book of verse by Longfellow, and started to read to his wee friend:

    When the warm sun, that brings
Seed-time and harvest, has returned again,
‘Tis sweet to visit the still wood, where springs
    The first flower of the plain.

    I love the season well,
When forest glades are teeming with bright forms,
Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell
    The coming-on of storms.

    From the earth’s loosened mould
The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives;
Though stricken to the heart with winter’s cold,
    The drooping tree revives.

    The softly-warbled song
Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings
Glance quick in the bright sun, that moves along
    The forest openings.

[Algy is reading the opening stanzas of An April Day, a very early poem by the 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.]

A fluffy spring tribute to photosworthseeing’ “No Edit Friday” 🙂

It was Earth Day, and a huge wave of dense white mist was rolling in from the sea again. Soon it would cover everything, and both land and sea would be obscured. Algy perched at the edge of the dunes, watching the mist approach, and wondering whether human beings would manage to avoid destroying their own home. Their ways bewildered him; all he could do was hope for the best, because he rather liked the Earth himself. As he felt the first cold droplets of the mist tickle his feathers, he thought of a poem by a particularly talented and thoughtful human, Mary Oliver:

Somewhere
    a black bear
      has just risen from sleep
         and is staring

down the mountain.
    All night
      in the brisk and shallow restlessness
         of early spring

I think of her,
    her four black fists
      flicking the gravel,
         her tongue

like a red fire
    touching the grass,
      the cold water.
         There is only one question:

how to love this world.
    I think of her
      rising
         like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
    the silence
      of the trees.
         Whatever else

my life is
    with its poems
      and its music
         and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
    coming
      down the mountain,
         breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
    her white teeth,
      her wordlessness,
         her perfect love.

[Algy is quoting the poem Spring from the collection House of Light by the contemporary American poet Mary Oliver.]

Something miraculous had occurred in Algy’s assistants’ garden. It happened once a year – and only once – and each time it delighted Algy as though it had never happened before. He perched among the blossoms and watched the bumblebees buzzing around each flower, while the newly arrived warblers flitted about among the branches of the other trees which had not even got their spring leaves yet. As Algy buried his beak in the beautiful white blossoms, he remembered a haiku by Issa:

the cure for
this raucous world…
late cherry blossoms

.騒がしき世をし祓つて遅桜
sawagashiki yo wo oshi haratte oso-zakura

[Algy is quoting a haiku by the 18th century Japanese master Kobayashi Issa in a translation by David G. Lanoue.]

While Algy was reading, he noticed some movements among the irises in the shallow water, so he put his book down and moved closer to the stream. He was hoping to meet a frog, but although he watched very carefully, no frog appeared. He was a wee bit disappointed, but there were plenty of tiddlers and Whirligig Beetles in the burn this spring, so Algy spent a happy afternoon watching them instead 🙂

It was another fine bright day, so Algy took a book of verse down to the place where the quiet burn tumbles through a wee channel with a soothing sort of gurgling, sploshing noise. He perched on the grass opposite the bed of wild irises, which were just beginning to shoot up their spiky green leaves again, and settled down with his book balanced on his knees to enjoy a happy Sunday morning’s reading. As he turned the pages he came upon a most appropriate rhyme:

          Bee! I’m expecting you!
          Was saying Yesterday
          To Somebody you know
          That you were due—

          The Frogs got Home last Week—
          Are settled, and at work—
          Birds, mostly back—
          The Clover warm and thick—

          You’ll get my Letter by
          The seventeenth; Reply
          Or better, be with me—
          Yours, Fly.

[Algy is quoting the poem Bee! I’m Expecting You! by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson.]                

Algy leaned back against the warm bank of sand, marvelling at the shapes which the wind and the rain had carved out of the edges of the dunes. It seemed that there had been more remodelling during the past few months than in any other winter he could remember. Where the dunes met the beach, the weather and the tides combined to create an ever-changing sculpture, never the same twice. It was fascinating to watch it evolve, if a wee bit alarming…
But Algy couldn’t really feel very much alarmed; he was too contented for that, resting in the spring sunshine and watching the beautiful green sea playing around the rocks.

Algy hopes that you will all have a chance to rest in the sunshine this weekend 🙂

It was a bright, brisk spring day, and the skylarks were singing over the sand dunes. The wind was in the north and the tide was high, and all seemed well with the world… if a wee bit chilly. So Algy made himself comfortable in a sunny spot at the edge of the dunes, and leaned back happily against the warm bank of sand, gazing out towards the dazzling sea, while the larks rose into the sky from the dunes behind him to sing their joyful songs, and then plummeted back down into the Marram grass again. Algy was reminded of a poem by John Clare:

          The rolls and harrows lie at rest beside
          The battered road; and spreading far and wide
          Above the russet clods, the corn is seen
          Sprouting its spiry points of tender green,
          Where squats the hare, to terrors wide awake,
          Like some brown clod the harrows failed to break.
          Opening their golden caskets to the sun,
          The buttercups make schoolboys eager run,
          To see who shall be first to pluck the prize—
          Up from their hurry, see, the skylark flies,
          And o’er her half-formed nest, with happy wings
          Winnows the air, till in the cloud she sings,
          Then hangs a dust-spot in the sunny skies,
          And drops, and drops, till in her nest she lies,
          Which they unheeded passed—not dreaming then
          That birds which flew so high would drop agen
          To nests upon the ground, which anything
          May come at to destroy. Had they the wing
          Like such a bird, themselves would be too proud,
          And build on nothing but a passing cloud!
          As free from danger as the heavens are free
          From pain and toil, there would they build and be,
          And sail about the world to scenes unheard
          Of and unseen—Oh, were they but a bird!
          So think they, while they listen to its song,
          And smile and fancy and so pass along;
          While its low nest, moist with the dews of morn,
          Lies safely, with the leveret, in the corn.

[Algy is quoting the poem The Skylark by the early 19th century English poet John Clare.]