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…


Algy was exploring the woodlands of Atlantic Oak trees which bordered the quiet loch. The leaves were much sparser now, and the reflections from the surface of the loch below were quite dazzling as they sparkled through every gap in the canopy of gold and fading green. It was a beautiful sight, and reminded Algy of some verses from a poem by William Cullen Bryant:

          Ere, in the northern gale,
          The summer tresses of the trees are gone,
          The woods of Autumn, all around our vale,
          Have put their glory on.

          Let in through all the trees
          Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright;
          Their sunny-color’d foliage, in the breeze,
          Twinkles, like beams of light.

          The rivulet, late unseen,
          Where bickering through the shrubs its waters run,
          Shines with the image of its golden screen,
          And glimmerings of the sun.

          Oh, Autumn! why so soon
          Depart the hues that make thy forests glad;
          Thy gentle wind and thy fair sunny noon,
          And leave thee wild and sad!

          Ah! ’t were a lot too blest
          For ever in thy color’d shades to stray
          Amid the kisses of the soft south-west
          To rove and dream for aye;

          And leave the vain low strife
          That makes men mad – the tug for wealth and power,
          The passions and the cares that wither life,
          And waste its little hour.

[Algy is quoting his own selection of verses from the poem Autumn Woods by the 19th century American poet William Cullen Bryant.]