Algy was exploring an area which he hadn’t visited before. The trees grew taller and straighter here, and beneath them he found lovely thick carpets of soft green moss to rest on. The clouds were still hanging low over the hills, and everything was dripping wet, but the wind was beginning to change; it was veering round to the north, and Algy knew that colder, brighter autumn weather was on its way. He leaned back against a mossy tree trunk and thought of a haiku by the Japanese master Kobayashi Issa:

           water splashed
           on the stone, on the tree…
           autumn wind

 .水打し石なら木なら秋の風
mizu uchishi ishi nara ki nara aki no kaze

[Algy is quoting a translation from the Japanese by David G. Lanoue, from his extensive online collection of the Haiku of Kobayashi Issa.]

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On either side of the pass the mountain sides rose up quite steeply, until they vanished into the low clouds which drifted constantly along the ridges. Everything was dripping and soggy from the mist, so Algy perched rather awkwardly in a young birch tree, to avoid soaking his feathers on the wet ground. It wasn’t exactly raining, but then, on the other hand, it wasn’t exactly not raining … “And that’s the West Highland summer for you,” Algy grumbled to himself.

Algy thought of all his friends far away, and particularly of his special Tumblr friend Ted in the USA, who celebrated his 40th birthday a few days ago, and who seems to love the Scottish Highland landscape. Algy sends you a big fluffy hug and late congratulations on your 40th birthday, Ted – and a thousand thanks for all your support and encouragement, and your reblogging of his adventures on the excellent LuxLit 🙂 May you have many, many more happy years ahead, and make many more wonderful images :))

Algy was thoroughly fed up with the gloomy grey skies and constant mist and rain which had persisted throughout the so-called summer. Although there was little sign of any forthcoming change in the weather (except for the worse), he decided to set out on an adventure, in the hope that a change of scene would be better than no change at all. After he had travelled some distance the rain stopped for a while, so Algy stopped too, and rested among the heather beside the old road through the pass. No-one had travelled along this road for years, and very slowly, inch by inch, patches of lichen were spreading across it to cover the man-made pink and grey surface with their subtler, more delicate colours.

The mist was on the hill, and not likely to lift in the forseeable future, so Algy found himself a nice soft patch of “bonnie blooming” heather to snuggle down in. Both types of heather were flowering together now, and they made a very pretty bed, although the midges were swarming thickly around him in the heavy, damp air. But luckily for Algy, feathers keep most of the midges out, so he tucked himself in and had a good, long rest.

Algy hopes that you will all have a good, long rest this weekend too – hopefully with better weather, and without midges to annoy you!

Algy was sitting on the rocks by the horseshoe bay, watching the clouds roll endlessly down the mountainside and into the calm, grey sea. A herd of cows had come down the slope to browse along the shoreline, as there was little grass on the hill. Although there was no surf, and it was probably less rugged than the scene the poet saw, it reminded Algy of a poem by Robinson Jeffers:

          The coast hills at Sovranes Creek;
          No trees, but dark scant pasture drawn thin
          Over rock shaped like flame;
          The old ocean at the land’s foot, the vast
          Gray extension beyond the long white violence;
          A herd of cows and the bull
          Far distant, hardly apparent up the dark slope;
          And the gray air haunted with hawks:
          This place is the noblest thing I have ever seen. No imaginable
          Human presence here could do anything
          But dilute the lonely self-watchful passion.

[Algy is quoting The Place for No Story by the 20th century American poet Robinson Jeffers.]

Note: Algy says please click on the image to blow it up to full size if you can’t find him at first 🙂

It was a grey, damp morning, but Algy was fascinated by the way the mists were swirling up the hillsides from the burns below. He perched on an old fence post, watching the watery wisps rising like smoke, and thinking of his old friend who was making such an effort to recover from his operation and get fit and strong again. Algy was reminded of a haiku by the 18th century master Kobayashi Issa:

          Little snail
          inch by inch, climb
          Mount Fuji!

(katatsuburi soro-soro nobore fuji no yama)

The sun was sinking lower and pale mists were beginning to creep back up the loch from the sea. Algy looked out across the sands to the wee islands where the seals haul out, but they seemed to be deserted for the time being. Evidently the seals were away looking for their dinner. But the sea birds were still calling vigorously to one another in the shallows, their voices rising and falling like the tide.

This post is especially dedicated to Algy’s Tumblr friend mdeanstrauss, who has fallen in love with the lochs of the Scottish Highlands remotely, via the internet 🙂

As evening fell, pale glowing mists began to form over the sea, along the course of the burn and above the peat bogs. It seemed as though the islands were floating on a soft bed of clouds. Algy was fascinated by this phenomenon, so he perched on a handy fence post, to watch and wait for the mists to swirl in over him.

This post is dedicated to Algy’s dear friend Jürgen, with his warmest thanks. Herzlichen Dank, mein lieber Freund xx

The next morning, the mist gradually lifted up, until it was able to drift lazily across the tops of the ridges, swirling slowly around and about. Algy perched on an old fence post and contemplated the West Highland summer. The world was grey and green and rather hazy, but the rocky outcrops on the hillsides glimmered like silver in the diffuse light. Algy was reminded of a poem by an ancient Chinese Zen monk:

          The gorge is long, rocks, and rocks and rocks, jut up,
          The torrent’s wide, reeds almost hide the other side.
          The moss is slippery even without rain.
          The pines sing, the wind is real enough.
          Who’s ready to leap free of the world’s traces:
          come sit with me among white clouds?

[Algy is quoting a poem by Han Shan, written in the 8th century, and translated by J. P. Seaton.]

After a while, Algy picked himself up, dusted himself off, and made his way safely onto the tiny beach which is only exposed at low tide. Resting against a mound of seaweed, low down out of the worst of the wind, he listened to the many sounds of the sea and the plaintive cries of the seabirds wheeling low over the water.