By the next morning, it was apparent that another autumn gale was on its way. The wind was already roaring through the trees, but Algy was determined to get some of those luscious red rowan berries before they were all blown away… 

It was blowing a gale again, and the sea was getting very agitated. Algy clung onto a rock, watching March go out like a lion with a huge mane of sea spray… just the way that it had come in.

Although it was spectacular, Algy felt that maybe it would make a nice change to experience some different kinds of weather, for the sake of variety if nothing else…  some calm, warm, sunny weather perhaps. The sea just laughed at him 🙂

Algy clung tightly to the knobbly branches, riding the gale in his favourite tree. He was wearing his shades, of course, to block out the worst effects of the driving Scotch mist and the howling wind, and to ensure that he was able to maintain his sangfroid… Suddenly, above the roaring of the wind, Algy heard a thrilling sound which lifted his spirits high: on a branch just above his head, a song thrush was singing, blithely competing with the sounds of the storm…

Algy hopes that you will all manage to maintain your cool over the weekend, and that even if conditions are particularly trying, you will experience some moments of unexpected delight 🙂

Happy weekend, everybody xoxo

[ Some of Algy’s friends may remember this GIF from almost exactly a year ago… This slightly reworked version accurately represents conditions today, except that today it is both much wetter and much windier than it was then, and thus quite impossible to use a camera outside. ]

Listen to the song thrush braving the storm and singing in Algy’s tree in the roaring wind today. The gale rages, the land is lost in dense Scotch mist, and the waters are rising… The West Highlands are expecting between 4" and 8" of rain over this weekend – more than some places where Algy’s friends live receive in months, or even a year! But the thrush sings on; he believes it is spring, even if no-one else does…

Great waves of dark clouds rolled across the sky, bringing fast, fierce showers of snow and hail, and the sea tossed angrily against the rocks in the wind. Algy’s feathers were limp and sodden, but he could see no way to get dry in such conditions; he reflected that he must be mad to be perching out there on the cold, wet rocks when he could be tucked up warmly in a sheltered nest. As he watched the sea spray fighting the wind he thought of some verses by one of his favourite poets:

          Bolt and bar the shutter,
          For the foul winds blow:
          Our minds are at their best this night,
          And I seem to know
          That everything outside us is
          Mad as the mist and snow.

          Horace there by Homer stands,
          Plato stands below,
          And here is Tully’s open page.
          How many years ago
          Were you and I unlettered lads
          Mad as the mist and snow?

          You ask what makes me sigh, old friend,
          What makes me shudder so?
          I shudder and I sigh to think
          That even Cicero
          And many-minded Homer were
          Mad as the mist and snow.

Algy dedicates this post especially to his kind friend qbnscholar and to all those of his friends who are as mad as the mist and snow, and for whom many years have passed since they were “unlettered lads”… xoxoxo

[ Algy is quoting the poem Mad as the Mist and Snow by the late 19th/early 20th century Irish poet William Butler Yeats. ]

When Algy woke up on Sunday morning, the rain and mist had cleared away for the time being, and – although it was still very windy – it was possible to see much further than before. When he looked all around at the place where he had landed on the rocks, he was astonished and delighted to discover that he recognised the headland and the hills which rose up behind it. The great gale had carried him back to a spot very close to his own home! Algy felt so happy and relieved that he burst into song; now he felt content to linger on the rocks for a wee while longer, to watch the waves playing in the sunshine before making his way back home across the hill. As he gazed at the turbulent sea, still swirling around and around beneath him, he remembered a poem:

          Just Home and Love! the words are small
          Four little letters unto each;
          And yet you will not find in all
          The wide and gracious range of speech
          Two more so tenderly complete:
          When angels talk in Heaven above,
          I’m sure they have no words more sweet
          Than Home and Love.

          Just Home and Love! it’s hard to guess
          Which of the two were best to gain;
          Home without Love is bitterness;
          Love without Home is often pain.
          No! each alone will seldom do;
          Somehow they travel hand and glove:
          If you win one you must have two,
          Both Home and Love.

          And if you’ve both, well then I’m sure
          You ought to sing the whole day long;
          It doesn’t matter if you’re poor
          With these to make divine your song.
          And so I praisefully repeat,
          When angels talk in Heaven above,
          There are no words more simply sweet
          Than Home and Love.

Algy hopes you all have a very happy Sunday xoxo

[Algy is quoting the poem Home and Love by the early 20th century British-Canadian poet Robert William Service.]

The wind was rapidly growing stronger and a severe gale was forecast for later in the day, so Algy decided to catch up with his reading while he could. He found himself a cosy, sheltered spot on a bank of late-flowering heather, and tried to tuck his head into his book, although the wind had other ideas…

Sitting there in the heather with the wind in his feathers and a gale blowing up, Algy was inevitably reminded of a poem by Emily Brontë:

          High waving heather, ‘neath stormy blasts bending,
          Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars;
          Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending,
          Earth rising to heaven and heaven descending,
          Man’s spirit away from its drear dongeon sending,
          Bursting the fetters and breaking the bars.

          All down the mountain sides, wild forest lending
          One mighty voice to the life-giving wind;
          Rivers their banks in the jubilee rending,
          Fast through the valleys a reckless course wending,
          Wider and deeper their waters extending,
          Leaving a desolate desert behind.

          Shining and lowering and swelling and dying,
          Changing for ever from midnight to noon;
          Roaring like thunder, like soft music sighing,
          Shadows on shadows advancing and flying,
          Lightning-bright flashes the deep gloom defying,
          Coming as swiftly and fading as soon.

[Algy is quoting the poem High Waving Heather by the 19th century English writer Emily Brontë.]

There was a gale blowing up again, and Algy was feeling decidedly windswept. He found a perch in an old, weathered oak tree, which had managed to survive many seasons of storms by growing very close to the ground, but Algy was not at all sure how long he would be able to cling on to his roost in the gusty wind…

The light was fading rapidly as the sun sank down behind the headland, so Algy made one last effort to drag his sack of baubles to safety before darkness fell. He managed to get his treasure up into the long, spiky grasses on the edge of the dunes and, turning his back to the wind, he tucked himself down tightly into a sandy hollow to rest there for the night, while the gale continued to roar over his head and the waves crashed on the beach behind him.

Poor Algy! Just as he was beginning to recover from one storm, another gale came sweeping in across the ocean. The sea birds riding on the crest of the wind told Algy that the gusts were reaching over 100 mph in places. Algy was not pleased… He quickly retreated to the nearest shelter he could find, and took cover in one of the many hollows in the sand dunes at the back of the beach. It was evidently going to be a wild night …

To all his friends in north-western Europe this evening, Algy says please take great care in this wild weather, and stay safe! There have already been several fatal accidents in this storm, and the North Sea coasts are expecting the worst tidal surge for 60 years or more.