Wild the Clouded Gleam

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Algy perched on a large rock beside the quiet loch and watched the dark clouds scudding fast across the sky. It was clear that he would soon be drenched again, but for the moment a rare burst of sunshine was providing some much needed light and a wee bit of comforting warmth. The autumn was advancing rapidly, and the damp leaves and grasses were glowing with their last bright colours before the fall. Not that leaves often had a chance to fall naturally in the wild west Highlands of Scotland; more likely, they would be all be gone with the wind, when the next Atlantic storm blew in…

Somewhere on the hillside behind him, a robin was quietly warbling its autumn song, and as Algy listened to its sweet notes he was reminded of another song, by Canon Dixon:

The feathers of the willow
Are half of them grown yellow
Above the swelling stream;
And ragged are the bushes,
And rusty now the rushes,
And wild the clouded gleam.

The thistle now is older,
His stalks begin to moulder,
His head is white as snow;
The branches all are barer,
The linnet’s song is rarer,
The robin pipeth low.

[Algy is quoting The Feathers of the Willow by the 19th century English cleric and poet, Canon Richard Watson Dixon.]

Lifting Fog

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When the morning sun filtered through the soft white curtain of fog, the beautiful, warm colours of a Highland moorland in autumn started to emerge in patches here and there. Algy leaned back comfortably against a wee ledge on one of the numerous rock outcrops, and watched the colours increase in intensity and begin to glow as the sun gradually lifted the fog from the hillsides.

Foggy, Foggy Dew

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The fog had decorated every tiny blade of grass and every delicate seed head with pearly drops of water which hung motionless in the unusually calm air. Algy was surprised to see that there were still a few wee heather flowers blooming here and there, although it was nearly October, and the bees were still buzzing busily, despite the excessive dampness which not only descended from above but oozed up squelchily from below to soak Algy’s tail feathers whenever he perched on the ground…

Dancing Softly to Himself

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For as far as Algy’s eye could see, delicate, lacy spiders’ webs and gossamers were strung across the grasses and low-lying plants of the moorland and peat bogs, each one glistening with its own special string of dew drop pearls. It looked like a magical, misty fairyland, and Algy was entranced. Choosing a spot that was not too impossibly soggy, he perched there for a while, watching the webs sparkle in the morning light and their tiny inhabitants going about their daily business. He remembered a poem by Emily Dickinson, and wondered just how many spiders were dancing softly to themselves in his tiny wee corner of the Scottish Highlands… and how many must therefore be dancing across the great wide world as a whole…

The spider holds a Silver Ball
In unperceived Hands –
And dancing softly to Himself
His Yarn of Pearl – unwinds –

He plies from Nought to Nought –
In unsubstantial Trade –
Supplants our Tapestries with His –
In half the period –

An Hour to rear supreme
His Continents of Light –
Then dangle from the Housewife’s Broom –
His Boundaries – forgot –

[Algy is quoting the poem The Spider Holds a Silver Ball by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson.]

Sea Fog

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When autumn took hold of the wild West Highlands of Scotland, the wind dropped down to just nothing at all, and a dense sea fog crept in from the Atlantic ocean, slipping silently across the moorland and soggy peat bogs as it smothered the mountains in a soft grey blanket.

And as a million or more spiders hung their webs across the gaps between a myriad of tiny plants and looked out at the September morning, they were astonished to see a rather large and surprisingly fluffy bird, perching quietly on a clump of damp grass…

After a long, dreich non-summer of almost endless rain, Algy has finally returned to his old haunts 🙂

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A pretty burn ran across the peaty moorland, close by the forest, and in places it had carved deep channels through the underlying rock, creating a series of miniature cliffs around enticing pools. It was far too cold to consider entering the water: despite the sunshine, there were still thin sheets of white ice in the shadier spots near the edges of the stream. But Algy found that it was very pleasant to recline on a flat rock in the sun, and watch the thousands of diamonds sparkling on the surface of the water as it tumbled over the pebbles and rough stone on its way down the hillside towards the sea.

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Algy flew up to the edge of the forest and perched on the chilly ground in the sunshine. It was a beautifully bright day, but the air was cold and the mountain top was decorated with a light coating of snow. Every pocket in the boggy ground was covered with its own thin sheet of ice, which crackled from time to time, and in the shadows the frost still lay thick and crisp and white. But the air was calm and the sun still provided a slight hint of warmth, so Algy rested for a while, absorbing the winter sunshine while he could.

Algy hopes that you will all enjoy a warm and restful weekend 🙂