The Joys of Spring

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It was the last day of March, and after a dismally grey week the sun had finally decided to shine and the sky had turned a brilliant blue… just for one day…

Algy felt full of the joys of spring, even though the temperature in the clear, fresh air was just a few degrees above freezing. He fluttered about excitedly from tree to tree, looking at all the fresh new buds emerging and listening to the other birds chattering happily around him; everything was coming back to life once again… High overhead in the bright blue sky a skylark was singing a glorious song, and very soon Algy started to sing out loud too, albeit not quite so melodiously as his wonderfully tuneful friend above…

Forsythia…

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It was spring at last. Algy’s home in the wild West Highlands was still being blasted by an icy wind carrying battering showers of rain mixed with hail or sleet, but it was undoubtedly spring at last, and there were times between the showers when the sky turned blue and the bright new flowers revelled in the sunshine.

Algy loved the early spring because there were so many flowers which shared his own sunny colours. Waiting for an auspicious moment when the wind seemed to have dropped to a tolerable level for a wee while and the clouds had dispersed, temporarily at least, he settled himself into a sunny forsythia bush and thought of a poem he had once read… and of you, all his friends around the world…

You said, take a few dry
sticks, cut the ends slantwise
to let in water, stick them
in the old silver cup on the
dresser in the spare room and
wait for the touch of Easter.
But a cold wave protected the
snow, and the sap’s pulse beat
so low underground I felt no
answer in myself except silence.
You said, winter breaks out in
flowers for the faithful and
today when I opened the door
the dry sticks spoke in little
yellow stars and I thought
of you.

[Algy is quoting the poem Forsythia by the 20th century American poet and philosopher, James Hearst.]

A Light Exists in Spring…

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Algy relaxed in the safety of the wee corner he had found, and basked in the unaccustomed warmth of the early spring sunlight. The wind was still icy, but in a sheltered spot it felt comfortably pleasant – as is so often the case in the wild west Highlands of Scotland when the sun deigns to shine…

It was the vernal equinox, and as Algy gazed at the bright colours glowing all around him, he rejoiced at the start of the light half of the year – and remembered some lines from a poem he had read, although he felt that its reference to human nature was a wee bit restrictive…

A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That silence cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.

Algy wishes all his friends in the northern hemisphere a very Happy Spring!

[Algy is quoting the first two stanzas of a A Light Exists in Spring by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson.]

Pied Beauty

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Algy flew over to a soft, mossy bank beneath a spreading holly tree, which, with the exception of the vigorous ivy that smothered some of the older tree trunks, provided the only truly bright green in the woodland at this time of year. He lay back comfortably on a bed of last year’s fallen leaves, dreaming idly of the exciting new adventures that lay ahead while he gazed at the beautiful, dappled pattern of shadows which the holly leaves cast in the bright spring sunlight. It reminded him of one of his favourite poems:

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Algy wishes you all a joyful and peaceful Sunday!

[Algy is quoting the poem Pied Beauty by the late 19th century English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins.]

The First Song of the Skylark

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Although it was heavily overcast at times, with a nasty tendency to sudden downpours of rain or sleet, it was glorious when the sun managed to escape from the clouds for a while. So Algy flew on towards the woodlands, and found himself an open spot on the hillside. The ground still felt very cold and unpleasantly damp, so he stretched himself out along a half-broken limb of a massive old oak tree, and indulged in a wee bit of early spring sunbathing. Suddenly, from high in the blue above him, he heard that wonderful prelude to spring… the first song of a skylark…

Algy hopes that even if you are not able to hear a skylark, you will all be able to find some sunshine this weekend 🙂

Sea Thrift

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Algy was hopping about here and there beside the sea, engaging in that popular Scottish pastime of trying to find a wee sheltered spot out of the wind, when he suddenly noticed a startling patch of pink among the lichen-covered rocks at the side of the beach.

Flying over to the place excitedly, he was thrilled to discover that the first thrift flowers of the spring were blooming merrily in the sunshine just a storm-wave’s length from the sea. Amazed that the plant could manage to survive in such a harsh and salty environment, Algy thanked it kindly for brightening up the rocks beside his home and bringing a happy smile to his face 🙂

All Day Ebb and Flow

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On a fine but decidedly chilly spring day, Algy perched on a mass of slimy seaweed, watching the tide come in. He was intrigued by the increasing flow of clear water through a sandy channel between the rocks. With each tiny wave the ripples advanced a little further and the drying seaweed got a wee bit wetter and more colourful again. Algy knew that in a few moments more he would have to hop into the air, if he didn’t want his legs and tail feathers drenched with salty water, and he wondered just how long he could wait… He was reminded of a haiku by Buson:

The spring sea
all day ebb and flow
ebb and flow

Algy wishes you all a beautiful, calm and peaceful weekend xoxo

[Algy is quoting a translation of a haiku by the 18th century Japanese master Yosa Buson.]

Back to the Beach :)

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The weather had been unpleasantly wintry in the latter part of April: temperatures had dropped to near freezing, bitter northerly gales had brought frequent showers of sleet and snow, and all the creatures of the west Highlands, Algy included, had taken cover and tried to keep warm as best they could.

But as the month drew to a close, the weather began to change, albeit very slowly, and on Wednesday the wind dropped and the world was filled with light. Although it was still very cold, Algy stretched himself out on the sand in front of the sparkling sea, and marvelled at the beautiful colours it could display when it had a mind to… He was surprised to find a substantial scattering of sea shells on this stretch of the beach, where they only rarely appeared, and wondered how so many could have got there so quickly.

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

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Happy Easter!   Happy Spring!

When Algy went out on Easter morning, he met a very special friend… He hopes that a fluffy Easter Bunny will visit you too 🙂

Algy wishes you all a very happy time today, and sends you lots of extra special fluffy hugs xoxoxo

April is the Cruellest Month…

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Most days were grey – either cold, damp and dreary, or drenched in heavy rain and dense Scotch mist. But from time to time the sun shone, and then Algy found a perch where he could feel a wee bit warmer and drier, and watch the play of light on the sea or the wee burn which had found itself a new path across the beach, twisting in and out of the masses of rock in a mysteriously elaborate pattern.

It was undoubtedly spring; the light was much stronger, the days were much longer, and the skylarks were singing merrily above the sand dunes… and yet the air was cold and the wind was sharp. Algy was inevitably reminded of T. S. Eliot’s famous opening lines from The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

[Algy is quoting the opening lines of that most famous of early 20th century poems, The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot.]