For the PWS @photosworthseeing New Year Special “That One Moment” – with lots of very fluffy hugs to all Algy’s friends at PWS, and his fluffiest thanks to the PWS team for organising yet another wonderful event xoxo

Algy’s special moment of 2016 was back in July, on an unusually summery day. Algy made his way through a lovely patch of woodland to a beautiful lochan fringed with wild water lilies, where everything was peaceful, calm and sunny – a rare treat in the West Highlands of Scotland! And…

Algy hopped down to the water’s edge and perched on a clump of lush green grass. Leaning forward, he peered down deep into the blue water, trying to see whether he could spot a frog among the water lilies, but although he looked as hard as he could, there was no sign of his amphibian friends. Then suddenly he noticed a wee movement on the soggy ground beside him. Several tiny froglets were making their way clumsily towards the shelter of the grasses, their spindly legs stumbling over the matted roots. Algy wished them well, and hoped they would have a safe journey…

[Originally posted on 31st July 2016]

Algy hopped down to the water’s edge and perched on a clump of lush green grass. Leaning forward, he peered down deep into the blue water, trying to see whether he could spot a frog among the water lilies, but although he looked as hard as he could, there was no sign of his amphibian friends. Then suddenly he noticed a wee movement on the soggy ground beside him. Several tiny froglets were making their way clumsily towards the shelter of the grasses, their spindly legs stumbling over the matted roots. Algy wished them well, and hoped they would have a safe journey…

Algy felt as though he were floating in a sea of green… He leaned back upon the soft, straggly heather bush and listened to the gentle sounds of the woodland all around him. From time to time the quiet was disturbed by the harsh call of some invisible bird in the tall trees high above, or by the splash of a leaping fish in the lochan, but for the most part everything was hushed and still in the calm of the sleepy summer afternoon…

Algy flew into the woodland, to a spot where the trees enclosed a beautiful lochan which formed a perfect mirror. Concealing himself in a straggly heather bush near a bed of water lilies, Algy gazed out at the water and the reflections of the trees, thinking of all his human friends in these deeply troubled times, and especially of his friends in France and Germany. In the peace and calm of the West Highland woodlands, he whispered these verses by the poet John Keats, for all his friends whose souls are wrapped in gloom just now:

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

[Algy is quoting the first two verses and the last verse from the poem To Hope by the early 19th century English poet John Keats.]

Algy fluttered over to a small, stunted birch tree that was overhanging the water, and made himself comfortable among the mass of twiggy branches and wee green leaves. It was so quiet and peaceful by the lochan that Algy soon began to doze, but suddenly he heard a sound that made him start. A frog had jumped into the water – Plop! – from the rock where Algy had been perching just a little while ago; it inevitably reminded him of that most famous of all Japanese haiku:

The old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water.

[Furu ike ya               
kawazu tobikomu 
mizu no oto]

[Algy is quoting the famous haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Matsuo Bashô.]         

When the rain paused for a wee while, and the dense Scotch mist that had smothered the West Highlands for many weeks eventually managed to lift, Algy found himself a mossy perch on the banks of a local lochan. The surface of the water was covered in wild water lilies… it was such a beautiful sight! As he gazed at the pretty scene, Algy thought of all the troubles and strife in the human world, and he wished so much that he could send some of the peace and calm of this quiet wee spot to all his friends around the world.

Algy hopes that wherever you are, and whatever troubles you may be facing, you will be able to find some happy moments of peace and calm xoxo

The wind was blasting across the moorland and the peat bogs, and Algy had considerable difficulty maintaining his sangfroid… He tucked himself down as tightly as he could on the lee side of a large clump of grass, and surveyed the strange scene in front of him. Everything was out of sync this year, and it resulted in a peculiar combination of colours. The white water lilies were flowering on the lochan, too late, and the grasses were taking on their autumn hues of gold and russet brown, too early. But the bracken was still bright green in most places, as though nothing was out of the ordinary.

Algy had heard that the “jet stream” had got stuck in the wrong place, producing the terrible weather that had plagued the West Highlands throughout the spring and summer. From where he was sitting, it seemed to Algy that he had acquired his own personal jet stream, to whistle through his hair and blow his feathers into his eyes, and he really rather wished that it would stop…

[ Visit Algy’s own web site ]

It was the warmest day of the year so far, but the sky was overcast and – owing to the unusual absence of wind – the midges were biting. The world was entirely grey and green, and Algy felt tired and indolent. He reclined sleepily on a tumbled tree trunk overlooking the lochan, brushing the midges off from time to time, and looked at the water and the sky. Like all the other flowers, the water lilies were late this year, and so far there were only a few buds showing among the floating leaves. As he gazed up at the leaden sky a large bird circled overhead, and Algy was reminded of a poem he had recently discovered:

Day and night, the lake dreams of sky.
A privacy as old as the mountains
And her up there, stuck among peaks. The whole eye

Fastened on hawk, gatherings of cloud or stars,
So little trespass. An airplane once
Crossed her brow; she searched but could not find

A face. Having lived with such strict beauty
She comes to know how the sun is nothing
But itself and the path it throws; the moon

A riddled stone. If only a hand
Would tremble along her cheek, would disturb. Even the elk
Pass by, drawn to the spill of creeks below—

How she cannot help abundance, even as it leaves
Her, as it sings all the way down the mountain.

[Algy is quoting the poem The Lake by the contemporary American poet Sophie Cabot Black.]

Algy dedicates this post to all his friends overseas who so badly need water. He wishes so much that he could send you some of the abundance he sees here, but alas, he cannot. Every day that it rains here (and that’s most days this year), Algy is thinking of you xoxo

For some reason Algy couldn’t understand, the weather bureau people had invented a phenomenon called “anticyclonic gloom’, and ever since then, the weather was exceedingly grey and overcast whenever there was high pressure. In the West Highlands this often meant dense Scotch mist as well, and the current high pressure system was no exception. However, the wind was very light, so Algy went out to explore the misty, dripping landscape…

Algy’s misty view this Sunday is especially dedicated to his friend walking-geema who likes this sort of thing 🙂

Have a happy Sunday, everybody, even if you are lost in the mist xoxo

Just like most “mornings after”, the day following the Scottish Independence Referendum dawned grey and dreich. There was scarcely a breath of wind on the moor, nor any sign of sun in the sky, and Algy was feeling decidedly limp. He draped himself over the remains of a blasted rowan tree, and gazed for some time at the calm water of the lochan. As he perched there in the stillness, watching nothing very much happening at all, he remembered a poem, which he dedicates to all his Scottish friends who are feeling disappointed and depressed today:

          Hold fast to dreams
          For if dreams die
          Life is a broken-winged bird
          That cannot fly.

          Hold fast to dreams
          For when dreams go
          Life is a barren field
          Frozen with snow.

[Algy is quoting the poem Dreams by the 20th century American poet Langston Hughes.]