By the Orange Buoy…

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It was too altogether too slimy on the jetty, as well as being uncomfortably exposed to the wind, so Algy hopped over to a grassy patch on the foreshore and tucked himself down behind a large orange buoy. Dark showers were sweeping across the sky at regular intervals, but in between the downpours the sun lit up the world with a beautiful, stormy light, and Algy decided to watch it until the next icy squall swept in from the sea…

On the Jetty…

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It was low tide, more or less. Algy flew over to the jetty where the humans did things with boats, perched cautiously on the cold, slippery surface, and turned his back to the freezing wind. It was rather a slimy spot, so Algy didn’t think that he would care to stop there long, but he liked to watch the shimmering light on the shallow water and wet sand…

Des Menschen Seele Gleicht dem Wasser

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Algy flew down to the Sound and perched in a gorse bush already covered in February gold. It was a stormy day, with rapidly alternating phases of darkness and light, and many heavy showers were sweeping in along the Sound from the open ocean. Algy was thinking of some of his friends, who were threatened by dark storm clouds in their own lives, and as he watched the next wave of clouds approach he sang one of his favourite “songs” for them:

Des Menschen Seele
Gleicht dem Wasser:
Vom Himmel kommt es,
Zum Himmel steigt es,
Und wieder nieder
Ewig wechselnd

The human soul
is like water:
it comes from heaven,
it rises to heaven,
and again it must descend to earth
in an eternal alternation.

Listen to this beautiful recording of Gesang der Geister über den Wassern in a setting by Schubert, performed by the Vienna Vocalists and the String Ensemble of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

[Algy is singing part of Gesang der Geister über den Wassern (The Song of the Spirit over the Waters) by the late 18th/early 19th century German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. You can read the full text of the poem in German and English, but Algy feels that the English translation given there does not do full justice to the original.]

Return of the Light

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An icy wind had begun to blow from the bitter north-east, but it brought much brighter, clearer, and decidedly fresher weather. Algy could see that the world was tilting rapidly towards the northern spring now, and light was returning to the wild West Highlands of Scotland. The dreaded darkness of winter was receding faster every day, and although it was still very cold, all the birds were rejoicing, including Algy 🙂 He perched happily on the branch of a still-dormant birch tree, and gazed at the sky. Spring was on its way!

Algy hopes that even if you are feeling cold this weekend, your world will be filled with new light 🙂

Another day was drawing to a close, and for a short while the West Highland sky turned a colour rarely seen during this dismally dark and gloomy winter. But each day now was noticeably longer and brighter than the last, and when Algy gazed at the beautiful blue above him, and watched the world turn once again as the light slowly faded, he thought of the coming spring and felt a new surge of hope – so he sang the tune without the words, to send to all his friends, at home and abroad 🙂

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

[Algy is quoting the first two verses of the poem “Hope” is the thing with feathers by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson.]

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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.