Winter’s End?

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The ice formations were very pretty, but Algy was beginning to feel cold. He fluttered over to a slightly less chilly perch on a large stone at the edge of the burn and stared at the frozen surface. It was hard to believe that in fact it was almost spring, but the strength of the sunlight which sparkled on the glittering crystals told him that the winter was truly over, even though surface appearances might seem to be to the contrary. Suddenly he heard the sound of a small bird twittering in a nearby tree, and knew that he was right. It would not be long now before the skylarks were ascending again, singing their glorious songs of spring over the moorland and the sand dunes by Algy’s home 🙂

 

What art thou, frost?

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Algy alighted cautiously on the frozen surface of the burn, and perched as lightly as he could on the sparkling crystals. He wondered whether the ice would hold his weight, or whether he would suddenly be plunged into the freezing water, which he could see bubbling through a narrow channel to his side, and feel tickling him through his chilly perch as it gurgled beneath him. He was reminded of some lines from an old poem:

What art thou, frost? and whence are thy keen stores
Deriv’d, thou secret all-invading power,
Whom ev’n th’ illusive fluid cannot fly?
Is not thy potent energy, unseen,
Myriads of little salts, or hook’d, or shap’d
Like double wedges, and diffus’d immense
Through water, earth, and ether? Hence at eve,
Steam’d eager from the red horizon round,
With the fierce rage of Winter deep suffus’d,
An icy gale, oft shifting, o’er the pool
Breathes a blue film, and in its mid-career
Arrests the bickering stream. The loosen’d ice,
Let down the flood and half dissolv’d by day,
Rustles no more; but to the sedgy bank
Fast grows, or gathers round the pointed stone,
A crystal pavement, by the breath of heaven
Cemented firm; till, seiz’d from shore to shore,
The whole imprison’d river growls below.

Algy sends special fluffy hugs to all his friends in the frozen north this weekend, to help you all keep warm this weekend, and he says “If you venture out onto the ice, please take great care!” xo

[Algy is quoting a few line lines from Winter, part of the long poem cycle The Seasons by the 18th century Scottish poet James Thomson.]

Winter Continues

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Algy flew over to a high point overlooking the Sound, and studied the world to which he had returned. Although there were crocuses flowering in cultivated spots, the landscape as a whole was still dressed in its drab winter clothes, and the sky was threatening snow. As the freezing east wind bit through his feathers, Algy knew that although spring was surely just around the corner, winter was not quite over yet…

Accustomed to the Dark…

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In the deep, dismal depths of the Scottish Highland winter, Algy perched in a wee bush which still held a few decorative leaves and looked out into the darkness. Daylight was severely rationed now: the nights lasted well into the mornings, and started again in the mid-afternoons. But Algy knew that the year would soon be turning, and in the meantime he was growing accustomed to the darkness. He was reminded of a poem by Emily Dickinson, which he shares – with lots of fluffy hugs – with all his friends in the northerly latitudes of the world:

We grow accustomed to the Dark –
When Light is put away –
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye –

A Moment – We Uncertain step
For newness of the night –
Then – fit our Vision to the Dark –
And meet the Road – erect –

And so of larger – Darknesses –
Those Evenings of the Brain –
When not a Moon disclose a sign –
Or Star – come out – within –

The Bravest – grope a little –
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead –
But as they learn to see –

Either the Darkness alters –
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight –
And Life steps almost straight.

[Algy is quoting the poem We grow accustomed to the Dark by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson.]

The End of Winter…

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It was a wonderfully sunny day at the very end of winter, heralding the start of an unusually early spring. Algy perched on a rock in the cool afternoon sunshine and gazed at the waves rolling in to the small bay beneath his cliff-side nest. Masses of cloud were building up over the islands to the north, and Algy knew that the fine weather wouldn’t last long, but he was determined to enjoy every minute of it while he could…

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…

By a Rock Pool…

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The next day brought no change in the weather: the outside world, if it still existed, was lost somewhere beyond a never ending mass of dense Scotch mist. Visibility was reduced to a few hundred yards at best, and the small part of the world which seemed to remain was blurry and grey.

Algy flew down to the sea, and gazed in the direction where the islands should have been… but as there was nothing out there except a pale, wet fuzziness which drove in among his feathers with surprising force, he decided to find a sheltered spot among the rocks and focus on his more immediate surroundings instead. Even when the rest of the world had vanished, there was plenty to see in the rock pools, so Algy perched on a cold, damp rock at the edge of a pool and spent a happy if damp and chilly half hour watching the tiny creatures beneath the surface going about their daily business…

Now in the Dark of February Rains…

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Algy perched limply in a spiky japonica bush, his feathers drip-drip-dripping in the rain, and gazed in wonder at the masses of red buds and beginnings of new green leaves which had appeared in the last few days. It was still dark and dismal, and very wet and windy, but there was no doubt now that spring was lurking around the corner, and Algy was reminded of the opening of a poem he had once heard:

Now in the dark of February rains,
Poor lovers of the sunshine, spring is born,
The earthy fields are full of hidden corn,
And March’s violets bud along the lanes

If your days seem dark and dismal too, don’t forget that spring is waiting just around the corner to brighten up the world again 🙂

[Algy is quoting the first verse of the poem In February by the 19th century Scottish writer and minister, George MacDonald.]

When the gales stopped raging and the wind dropped down to a more reasonable level, the mist dropped down again too – of course! – and the world was drenched once more… But Algy refused to be daunted, so, borrowing an umbrella from his assistant, he settled down on the soggy grass to spend a pleasant if damp afternoon catching up on his reading. When his assistant happened to pass by, Algy had reached this point in his book of verse:

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower’d Camelot;
Outside the isle a shallow boat
Beneath a willow lay afloat,
Below the carven stern she wrote,
The Lady of Shalott.

Algy hopes you will all enjoy a happy and peaceful weekend, and a chance to catch up on your favourite reading 🙂

[Algy is engrossed in the famous narrative poem The Lady of Shalott by the English 19th century poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

Algy knows that it is not easy for his wild cousins to find sufficient food in the winter, so he takes care to ensure that they get enough to eat 🙂

Algy hopes that all his friends in the cold parts of the world will feed his little cousins too, to help them survive the difficult winter months.