The northerly gale continued to roar across the Scottish Higlands, straight out of the arctic, bringing frequent biting showers of hurtling snow and icy hail. Algy took cover in an evergreen cypress hedge, but it only afforded a modicum of protection, and as his assistant took his photograph, Algy’s reproachful gaze reminded her that possibly a fluffy bird would rather be snuggled up with his fluffy friends in a nice warm place on such a day, instead of being obliged to pose for photos in the teeth of the gale…

The storm arrived on schedule, and as the gale roared across the ocean it whipped the sea up into a frenzy, creating huge, overtopping waves which crashed and tumbled over each other as they raced to batter the shore. Although Algy enjoyed watching the spectacle, the weather was undoubtedly harsh, and maybe just a wee bit dangerous for a fluffy bird, so he pressed himself tightly against a sheltering rock and kept as low to the ground as possible. From time to time, frantic swirls of snowflakes whizzed around him in every direction, driven by sudden, huge gusts of wind. There was no doubt that it was not a fit day out for man nor beast, and before very long Algy decided that it might possibly be wiser to retreat to a more sheltered spot while he still had the chance…

When Algy woke the next morning, he found that the Scotch mist had descended again, and it was even darker and gloomier than before, and exceedingly damp.

The forecasters were saying that a big storm was on its way, but for the moment it was calm, although very dreich and dismal. Algy decided that in conditions such as these, more hugs were needed, so he took his little blue monster out to see the daffodils emerging from the ground, and gave it a great big fluffy hug 🙂

Have you hugged your monster today? Algy sends lots of extra fluffy hugs to all those who may be in need of extra hugs today xoxo

Algy’s monster was sent to him by @monster-hugs some years ago, and travelled thousands of miles around the world, just to keep him company and give him someone extra to hug 🙂

In the dark, dismal depths of a West Highland January, Algy perched on the dripping branch of a young ash tree. The dense Scotch mist had not budged for three days, even though the wind was blowing vigorously, driving the tiny droplets of water into Algy’s eyes and deep among his feathers. It was only just around midday, but it looked like dusk, and the small part of the world that was visible at all looked dim and blurry in the low light. Tucking his wings more closely around him, Algy dozed limply in the damp, dreaming hopefully of sunnier climes where the world was full of colour and light and warmth…

The next day there was not the slightest change in the weather, and the Scotch mist continued to smother the land with a drenching grey blanket; the lost world seemed to do nothing but drip, drip, drip, drip, drip…

Algy lay back in the branches of a fir tree and watched the droplets of water falling all around him. One slim, bare branch above his head was curved in such a way that droplets formed only at the lowest point of the curve, each one growing until it could hold on to the branch no longer, and then dropped, to let the next drop of water follow its example. The process was fascinating and apparently endless, and Algy rested there for some time, just watching the droplets form and fall, form and fall, form and fall…

He was reminded of a haiku by Kobayashi Issa, although his own drops were rather more leisurely than frenzied:

in morning mist
a frenzy of drops
from the tree

.朝霧にあはただし木の雫哉

Algy hopes that you will all enjoy a leisurely, happy and peaceful weekend, whatever the weather in your part of the world 🙂

[Algy is quoting an early haiku by the 18th century Japanese master Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue.]

Algy slept for a long, long time after the excitement of his Magical Midwinter Star party, and when he awoke, it was January. Rubbing his eyes sleepily he flew up to a perch in a pine tree, to inspect the brave new world, but the world had gone. He rubbed his eyes again, but still there was nothing there… nothing but dense, dark Scotch mist… It was January indeed…

Conditions in the West Highlands of Scotland were a wee bit stormy, to say the least, and likely to continue that way for many more days…

Algy flew down to the Sound, which was more sheltered than the exposed coast by his home, but found that – even there – everything was being flattened by the wind… including him!

After so much rain, Algy found that the ground was a wee bit damp for the tail feathers, so he jumped up into a bush and turned to face the sun. The burn rushed and tumbled over the trailing branches in the water beneath him, then swept round the bend to continue its sinuous path through the peat bog to the sea. Algy knew that the sun was about to disappear again, as there was a large mass of cloud sweeping in from the Atlantic, but for a few wonderful moments, the world was bathed in light and colour and the Blue Burn was truly blue 🙂

Algy hopes you will all get a wee bit of sunshine this weekend, and he sends extra special fluffy hugs to those of his friends facing blizzards in the eastern USA, to help you keep warm xoxo

Something peculiar had happened to the West Highlands… it looked as though somebody had been playing with their paintbox! After 24 hours of rain, the sun came out for a short while, and the landscape was immediately transformed.

Although it was blowing a gale, Algy hurried down to the burn, to watch the water surging through the low, twiggy branches of the bushes that trailed over it. The burn gurgled and foamed as it rushed along past him with enormous energy, evidently eager to return to the sea. Algy marvelled at the amazing capacity of the peat bogs to drain all the water away, and he lay back happily on last year’s bracken, listening to the burn and soaking up the rare winter sunshine while it lasted…

Although the sun was still setting in the mid-afternoon, Algy’s spirits were high: the two months of perpetual gloom were over at last, and every day now there was a little more light, and the light was a little bit brighter.

Algy knew that it would probably be cold, wet and windy for many more months to come – if not all year round – but in the northern lands the return of the daylight was more significant. The dreadful darkness of winter was ending!

So Algy dedicates this post to those of his friends who live in the lands on the dark side of the 56th parallel north. It’s over, friends! Help is on the way 🙂