How Long Before Spring?


Algy flew onwards to the shores of the quiet loch, which, owing to the bitter March wind, was a wee bit less calm than usual. He tucked himself down among the masses of dead bracken beside the shore, trying to ignore the spikes of the numerous bramble stems which wound their way mercilessly through the dry fronds. It was a fine morning, and the loch was unusually blue, but the colours surrounding it were still those of winter, with not a hint of green in sight. Algy wondered how long it would be before the landscape was transformed once again by the touch of spring…



Overnight, most of the remaining snow quietly vanished from the area around Algy’s home, and on the following morning the air felt much less icy. Algy had stayed away from the beach during the recent run of bitterly cold north winds, as it was much too exposed for comfort. But when the wind dropped to a more reasonable level and the temperature rose slightly, he wasted no time in returning to the ocean. He had to admit that it wasn’t exactly warm, but it was cosy enough tucked down among the Marram grass. It was so good to be beside the sea again…

The weather had changed and the day was bright, albeit with masses of grey clouds hurrying across the sky, but the wind was icy and much too strong for comfort, so Algy decided to spend some time looking back through his past adventures… and happened upon this GIF from early February two years ago, when conditions were evidently very similar…

And as the keen wind whistled through his feathers and froze the tip of his beak, Algy thought to himself:

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

[Algy is quoting the second verse of the famous poem Sea Fever by the early 20th century English poet John Masefield.]

One of Algy’s Tumblr friends, Thierry, lives in an exotic location on the other side of the world – a place very different from Algy’s northern home. Recently, Thierry has been reporting a sequence of strange events in his tropical garden. Unlike the gentle mosses and ferns in Algy’s mild environment, Thierry’s plants have grown alarming and dangerous, and now seem to have minds of their own.

Algy was keen to help his friend regain control over the evil plants, so he flew over to the old oak woods, to ponder the matter by an ancient woodland waterfall. The constant flow of the tumbling water in such a peaceful setting can be a great aid to clear thinking and inspiration, and there is much wisdom there …

(You can catch up with Thierry’s story and photos to date at thierry-facon.)

It was a damp, dull February day, and the world felt like a massive ball of lead – or maybe it was just Algy that felt leaden… He perched in a bush at the edge of the peat bog and stared listlessly at the pools below. All the colour in the landscape seemed to have drained away into the water, which appeared to be flickering with a strange light … or was it just his imagination?

The bog was certainly an odd place, and it was prudent to treat it with a great deal of respect. From the edge it looked harmless enough, but Algy knew that it could suck you down into its unseen depths, and hold on to you so tightly that you would never emerge again. Even from his perch he could hear the unique, slurpy, gurgling noises that it made. The sound was disconcerting, but Algy understood that providing you maintained a safe distance, the bog was really a wonderful thing. It could rain and rain and rain and rain, day after day, and the peat bog mysteriously absorbed it all, and drained the water away. Algy thought sadly of his unfortunate friends in southern England, who were facing terrible flooding in this exceptionally wet winter. If only they had a peat bog like this one!

Algy lay back happily on the soft carpet of mosses and dry bracken, and gazed up through the trees at the beautiful blue sky. He knew only too well that the wind and the rain would soon return, but on such a day he was just going to relax and “be”, as the poet Longfellow suggested.

Algy was thinking especially of his Tumblr friend Leonard Adams, who had so kindly dedicated the very first post on his new blog spilledfromthecradle to Algy’s adventures. Algy knew that his friend loved the woodlands too, although the forests around his home four thousand miles away were conceived on a rather grander scale, and were covered in ice and snow just now. Algy hoped that very soon the snow would melt and his friend would be able to return to his woodland walks, and enjoy a perfect day like this one:

          O gift of God! O perfect day:
          Whereon shall no man work, but play;
          Whereon it is enough for me,
          Not to be doing, but to be!
          Through every fibre of my brain,
          Through every nerve, through every vein,
          I feel the electric thrill, the touch
          Of life, that seems almost too much.
          I hear the wind among the trees
          Playing celestial symphonies;
          I see the branches downward bent,
          Like keys of some great instrument.
          And over me unrolls on high
          The splendid scenery of the sky,
          Where through a sapphire sea the sun
          Sails like a golden galleon…

Algy hopes that you will all enjoy a truly relaxed weekend, and that the sun will shine in your hearts even if it may not be shining on your heads 🙂

[Algy is quoting part of the poem A Day of Sunshine from Birds of Passage: Flight the Second by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.]

It was a fine, bright February day, and Algy felt in need of a change of scene, so he set off for the ancient oak woods by the loch. The trees made beautiful shapes against the sky without their leaves, and beneath them a most fascinating tangle of rocks and vegetation was exposed throughout the winter. The red-brown stalks of last year’s bracken and the deep bed of fallen leaves provided shelter for all kinds of wee creatures and plants, and made a lovely contrast for the bright green mosses and ferns which had obviously been thriving in the very wet weather. And on the tree trunks and rocks there were all kinds of lichens growing as well. In the woodland around him, Algy could hear some of the smaller birds starting to practise their songs for the spring. It was certainly a lovely day for singing, so Algy decided to join in…