During the brief West Highland summer, there are many fascinating plants to be found in the peat bogs if you look carefully enough, but Algy’s favourite doesn’t require close scrutiny to discover it. When the weather is reasonably warm, the whole bog is fragrant with the wonderful aroma of the leaves of the wee, shrubby bog myrtle – and Algy just loves it! He wishes he could send you some of its unique perfume, in the way that he can send you his pictures, but alas he cannot! So you will just have to imagine that you are sitting in the peat bog with Algy, inhaling this very special and uplifting aromatic scent 🙂

While Algy was on holiday in July, he spent a happy time among the aromatic bog myrtle of the peat bogs, lazily watching the cotton grass blowing gently in the wind. As he reclined there in the sunshine, he thought of one of his oldest friends, who – as it happens – celebrates her 86th birthday today, and for her sake he recited one of her favourite poems:

         There is no dusk to be,
             There is no dawn that was,
          Only there’s now, and now,
             And the wind in the  grass.

          Days I remember of
             Now in my heart, are now;
          Days that I dream will bloom
             White peach bough.

Algy sends lots of very special fluffy birthday hugs and kisses to his old friend today xoxoxoxo

[Algy is quoting the first two verses of the poem An Eternity by the American 20th century Modernist poet and Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish.]

Algy needn’t have worried about leaving his umbrella behind, because suddenly Nature provided him with the loveliest umbrella he could imagine. Algy perched on a wee rock beneath the beautiful bow, with the rain falling all around him, and remembered a simple little children’s poem he had once read:

          Boats sail on the rivers,
          And ships sail on the seas;
          But clouds that sail across the sky
          Are prettier than these.

          There are bridges on the rivers,
          As pretty as you please;
          But the bow that bridges heaven,
          And overtops the trees,
          And builds a road from earth to sky,
          Is prettier far than these.

Algy hopes you will all have a happy, peaceful Sunday xoxo

[Algy is quoting The Rainbow, a poem for children by the 19th century English poet Christina Rossetti.]

Postscript: several people have written to Algy about this very unusual rainbow, and he would like to assure anyone who is curious that it really did look exactly like this (even more impressive in reality, in fact), and the photo has not been altered in any way other than to adjust brightness, contrast and saturation levels a wee bit. Neither Algy nor his assistants had ever seen a rainbow quite like this before.

There was a gale blowing up again, and Algy was feeling decidedly windswept. He found a perch in an old, weathered oak tree, which had managed to survive many seasons of storms by growing very close to the ground, but Algy was not at all sure how long he would be able to cling on to his roost in the gusty wind…

Although Algy is very fond of sea shells, counting them proved to be harder than he had expected, so he decided to go and look for tiddlers instead. He knew that the tiny fish loved to dart in and out of the shadows of the quiet burn that trickles slowly from the peat bogs through the sand dunes to the sea. So Algy found a sheltered spot by one of the many calm pools in the burn, and settled down to watch. It was very peaceful, but – as he quickly discovered – it was also distinctly soggy beneath the tail feathers if you sat there for any length of time…

After he had stumbled slowly across the rocky terrain for a while, Algy found that the ground levelled out and became much more soggy. He had reached the peat bogs. Algy knew better than to try to cross the bogs on foot in winter: that was the way to be sucked down into oblivion forever… The only safe path through the bogs was to follow the burn, as it carved out its own course through the marshy ground, leaving banks of rock and wee beaches of gravel where the peat had long since washed away. It was by no means an easy route to follow, however, so Algy was determined to find a place to store his baubles as soon as he possibly could. Before he set off up the burn, he rested for a while in the sunshine, watching the peaty water trickling its way steadily down to the sea.

The next morning was unusually sunny, and Algy was in high spirits. Not only had he rescued himself from the sea, but he had salvaged a bag of treasure too! So when the sun rose above the ridge he set off eagerly, leaving the dunes behind him, and soon reached a rocky outcrop with a very fine outlook. Some of the islands were lost in the bank of clouds on the horizon, but the innermost of the Small Isles were just about visible. Fom time to time the spray on the rocky north coast of the headland rose high enough to be visible as a white fringe where the peat bogs met the sea.

Algy leaned back against a rock and thought about his sack of baubles. They were too heavy for him to carry very far, so he needed to find a place to store them safely for a while. But most of all, he wanted to find a Christmas tree to hang them on and, although the view was beautiful, there was not a single tree in sight …

The wind was beginning to blow with some vigour, so Algy tucked himself down among the long russet grasses, and prepared for the storm that was coming. As he gazed out over the misty moorland he thought of a poem by Carlyle:

          The wind blows east, the wind blows west,
          And the frost falls and the rain:
          A weary heart went thankful to rest,
          And must rise to toil again, ’gain,
          And must rise to toil again.

          The wind blows east, the wind blows west,
          And there comes good luck and bad;
          The thriftiest man is the cheerfulest;
          ’Tis a thriftless thing to be sad, sad,
          ’Tis a thriftless thing to be sad.

          The wind blows east, the wind blows west;
          Ye shall know a tree by its fruit:
          This world, they say, is worst to the best;—
          But a dastard has evil to boot, boot,
          But a dastard has evil to boot.

          The wind blows east, the wind blows west;
          What skills it to mourn or to talk?
          A journey I have, and far ere I rest;
          I must bundle my wallets and walk, walk,
          I must bundle my wallets and walk.

          The wind does blow as it lists alway;
          Canst thou change this world to thy mind?
          The world will wander its own wise way;
          I also will wander mine, mine,
          I also will wander mine.

[Algy is quoting the poem Fortuna by the 19th century Scottish author and philosopher Thomas Carlyle.]

Although it looked as though it was about to rain again, it wasn’t actually raining at that moment, and the wind had died down to a breeze. So Algy decided to go and inspect the peat bogs. The fresh greens of summer had turned to rusty reds and browns, which would make the whole landscape glow if the sun were shining … but of course it wasn’t. However, at least ice wasn’t falling out of the sky, as it had been doing for the past two days.

The pretty summer flowers had long since gone, of course, but Algy found some lovely touches of gold in the remaining few leaves of the battered old oak trees. Algy knew that there were always treasures to find if you searched for them…

The weather had turned much cloudier and damper but Algy didn’t mind, because the rain helps the peat bogs to flourish. At this time of year the unique aromatic fragrance of the Bog Myrtle fills the air around Algy’s home, and he loves to get as close to it as possible. The wonderful smell of the fresh leaves in his beak made his hair stand on end in the breeze!

Algy sends you all a cooling waft of the damp, fragrant summer air of his West Highland home, and hopes you have a cool and peaceful weekend xx