Blue Skies

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Although much of the burn was frozen and the air was bitterly cold, the sun was shining brightly and the sky was a beautifully clear blue… a rare phenomenon in the wild west Highlands of Scotland…

So Algy tucked himself down among the dry grasses on the sunny side of the burn, and leaned back happily against the steep bank which sheltered him from the fearsome east wind. He could see that water was still flowing here and there beneath the ice, and it made delightful trickling, gurgling sounds as it pressed on down the frozen hillside towards the sea. It was a fine day for adventuring 🙂

A Strange Transformation

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When Algy ventured out the next day, he discovered to his surprise that the world had undergone a strange transformation. Everywhere that there should have been water, there was now something else instead, and it was very cold! Experimenting cautiously at first, he tried perching on what should have been the middle of the flowing burn, and found that he could glide over the surface with ease… that is, if he could tolerate a freezing pain in the tail feathers!

We’ll Weather the Weather…

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Algy found himself a perch in a tree by the lochside and gazed out across the moody water. The weather was growing wild and stormy again, and very soon there would be more rain. He could scarcely remember a day when it hadn’t rained, although he knew that once upon a time the sun used to shine, at least from time to time, and there had occasionally been whole weeks when one dry day followed another. He wondered whether this year was just an anomaly, or whether it would now rain for evermore in the wild west Highlands of Scotland. He was reminded of an old rhyme, which he started to sing at the top of his voice, in defiance of the weather, and for the benefit of any passer by who might happen to be listening:

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.

The Fingers of the Storm

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Algy flew over to a low rock, to escape the incoming tide, and gazed up at the sky. The storm clouds seemed to be reaching down towards him with many dark, wispy fingers, as though they wanted to snatch him up and carry him away. Clutching the rock tightly, he wondered whether it might be safer to retreat inland until the storm had passed…

Algy hopes that if you are threatened by storms this weekend, you will be able to find a safe place to shelter until the skies clear again 🙂

The Great Sea Loch

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The weather was wild and unpredictable, and Algy had flown inland to escape the worst of the coming storm. As he approached the great sea loch he was caught by a sudden gust of wind and swept across the water to the further side. Landing on a slippery pebble beach strewn with seaweed, he perched uncomfortably on the damp stones and gazed at the moody water and the threatening sky. The great loch was behaving as though it were the ocean, with waves crashing on its shores, and he wondered how much more violent the breakers might be on his own beach, which faced the open sea…

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…

Sea Symphony in Silver…

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Summer does not last long in the wild West Highlands of Scotland – if indeed it arrives at all – and as July gave way to August there was a distinct and melancholy change in the air, as though autumn were here already. Waves of heavy rain swept in across the Atlantic on strong, cool winds, and when the sun occasionally emerged, in between the showers, the world appeared in the muted, silvery colours typical of the equinox, instead of the strong hues of summer. However, Algy knew that in fact it was only early August, and as he watched the diamonds sparkling on the water and the wet sand, he hoped that there might still be a chance of some warm sunshine before the long Highland winter began in earnest…

And the next day…

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And the next day… the sun came out! Algy was so astonished that at first he didn’t know what to do. The mist had returned to wherever it came from, at least for the moment, and the landscape was entirely transformed: all the fuzzy greyness had vanished, and the world was crisp and sharp, and full of light and colour again. As he flew over his assistants’ garden, Algy noticed something especially colourful, hiding among a tangle of very thorny stems… Like many of his feathered friends, Algy loves berries of all kinds, so before flying back to the sea, he settled down to enjoy a summery feast of juicy tayberries 🙂

[For those who may not know: tayberries are a hybrid of raspberries and blackberries, bred in Scotland, and well suited to our… climate here. They are large and juicy and very tasty, if you don’t require your fruit too sweet.]

The Mist

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As the glorious West Highland summer continued, Algy reclined on the dripping leaves of a garden hedge, wondering how long it would take for the tiny droplets of dense mist to soak right through his feathers. There was no point looking out to sea, as the sea had not been visible for quite some time. And there was no point watching the sky, as the sky had long since vanished. So Algy struck up a conversation with a song thrush who, despite the weather, had been yodelling vigorously in a tree nearby. The thrush was not a particularly well-read bird, so for his benefit Algy recited an appropriate poem, in the hope that the thrush would add it to his repertoire:

I am the mist, the impalpable mist,
Back of the thing you seek.
My arms are long,
Long as the reach of time and space.

Some toil and toil, believing,
Looking now and again on my face,
Catching a vital, olden glory.

But no one passes me,
I tangle and snare them all.
I am the cause of the Sphinx,
The voiceless, baffled, patient Sphinx.

I was at the first of things,
I will be at the last.
I am the primal mist
And no man passes me;
My long impalpable arms
Bar them all.

[Algy is reciting the poem The Mist by the 20th century American poet Carl Sandburg.]