The Joys of Spring

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It was the last day of March, and after a dismally grey week the sun had finally decided to shine and the sky had turned a brilliant blue… just for one day…

Algy felt full of the joys of spring, even though the temperature in the clear, fresh air was just a few degrees above freezing. He fluttered about excitedly from tree to tree, looking at all the fresh new buds emerging and listening to the other birds chattering happily around him; everything was coming back to life once again… High overhead in the bright blue sky a skylark was singing a glorious song, and very soon Algy started to sing out loud too, albeit not quite so melodiously as his wonderfully tuneful friend above…

Forsythia…

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It was spring at last. Algy’s home in the wild West Highlands was still being blasted by an icy wind carrying battering showers of rain mixed with hail or sleet, but it was undoubtedly spring at last, and there were times between the showers when the sky turned blue and the bright new flowers revelled in the sunshine.

Algy loved the early spring because there were so many flowers which shared his own sunny colours. Waiting for an auspicious moment when the wind seemed to have dropped to a tolerable level for a wee while and the clouds had dispersed, temporarily at least, he settled himself into a sunny forsythia bush and thought of a poem he had once read… and of you, all his friends around the world…

You said, take a few dry
sticks, cut the ends slantwise
to let in water, stick them
in the old silver cup on the
dresser in the spare room and
wait for the touch of Easter.
But a cold wave protected the
snow, and the sap’s pulse beat
so low underground I felt no
answer in myself except silence.
You said, winter breaks out in
flowers for the faithful and
today when I opened the door
the dry sticks spoke in little
yellow stars and I thought
of you.

[Algy is quoting the poem Forsythia by the 20th century American poet and philosopher, James Hearst.]

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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It was St. Patrick’s Day, and although the weather was very rough at times, with heavy showers of sleet and hail racing in across the sea on massive black clouds from the frozen north, there were at least some moments when the sky cleared and the sun decided to shine.

Wating for one of these sunny intervals, Algy managed to settle himself down for a few minutes in the most sheltered spot he could find, with his back pressed firmly against the mossy trunk of an old elder bush. Opening one of his many books of poetry he read the entry for 17th March:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Algy hopes you will follow his example, and dye your hair bright green, as he does every year on this day ☘️

[Algy is reading the poem He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by the late 19th/early 20th centurey Irish poet William Butler Yeats.]

The Middle of March…

Although it was the middle of March, nasty cold wet sleet was falling with a persistence and determination guaranteed to dampen the spirits of even the hardiest inhabitant of the wild west Highlands, and yet Algy was undismayed. In fact, he was feeling positively cheerful, because his assistant, who had been unwell for several months and unable to record his adventures, had at last recovered sufficiently to assist him.

Trying not to shiver, Algy perched in a dripping young larch tree, listening to a song thrush nearby, who was evidently feeling equally happy as he belted out his defiance of the dismal weather at the very top of his voice. As he turned towards his assistant, Algy shook the icy water off his feathers, and smiled his sunniest smile…

Algy hopes to be able to continue his adventures more regularly now, albeit not daily, and would be delighted if you could join him as he shares his experiences in the wild wet Highlands of Scotland once again.

In the meantime, Algy sends you all his very fluffiest hugs, and his warmest thanks to all the kind friends who wished him a Happy Birthday a few days ago. Algy loves you all xoxo

Happy Birthday Algy!

Today, 13th March,  is Algy’s birthday, the 7th anniversary of Algy’s very first adventure on Tumblr, and although he has been away for a while, Algy is still thinking of all his friends around the world and hopes that you are all very well and happy, and have not entirely forgotten him 🙂

On the morning of Algy’s birthday, the west Highlands of Scotland had been battered yet again by wild Atlantic storms, so Algy’s friends had no difficulty in collecting up a nice wee posy of some of the many daffodils that had been broken and laid low by the fierce winds, which they presented to him with their fluffiest birthday wishes, singing:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Algy sends you all his fluffiest hugs on the occasion of his birthday xoxo

Whence these stories?

It had been a long, long, dreary summer, and Algy had often found himself hopelessly lost in the dense Scotch mist which smothered the land and the sea, blown hither and yon by the gales and drenched by the persistent rain, but as the world turned and the wind swung round to the north at last, a bitter squall from the arctic swept down across the ocean and drove all before it as it chased the clinging mists away. And when the wind finally dropped the sun came out and lit up the land in all its autumn glory, and Algy found himself safely at home once more… Tired but happy, he picked a comfortable spot on a bed of drying grasses and fallen leaves, and settled down comfortably in the sunshine to enjoy the unusual luxury of a quiet afternoon’s reading:

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations,
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
“From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fenlands
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes.

[Algy is reading the famous opening lines from The Song of Hiawatha by the 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

Shadow Race

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Algy searched around for a more comfortable perch, and spotted one that not only looked inviting but which would obviously provide extra advantages should he have the misfortune to be suddenly swept into the sea. Tucking himself in cosily, he put his feet up and leaned back in the sunshine, trying to ignore the bitter wind which ruffled his feathers. It was a splendid day for shadows, and as he admired the fine shadow beside him, he thought of a wee poem he had read, and smiled:

Every time I’ve raced my shadow
When the sun was at my back,
It always ran ahead of me,
Always got the best of me.
But every time I’ve raced my shadow
When my face was toward the sun,
I won.

Algy hopes that you will all have a relaxing and happy weekend, and that every time you race your shadow you will win 😀

[Algy is quoting the short poem Shadow Race by the 20th century American children’s book writer Shel Silverstein.]

The Flying Dutchman…

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Suddenly, Algy noticed that the din of human voices which he had heard from the other side of the bay had ceased; all was silent, except the creaking of the boats as they swayed against the strange floating structure he was perching upon. Puzzled, Algy flew a wee bit closer. The tall ship appeared to be deserted now, which seemed odd; he hadn’t noticed the humans moving away, and he had seen them bustling about all over it just a short time ago. The clouds were moving swiftly across the sky, creating ever changing patterns of shadow and light, and for a moment the sun illuminated the name which was painted on the side of the boat. Algy gasped and shuddered, then quickly turned away, and pretended to be gazing at something fascinating across the bay, in the opposite direction. The opening lines of a long poem came into his mind… “Long time ago, from Amsterdam a vessel sailed away…” he thought, and then remembered the end of the famous tale:

Once more the lurid light gleamed out, – the ship was still at rest,
The crew were standing at their posts; with arms across his breast
Still stood the captain on the poop, but bent and crouching now
He bowed beneath that flat dread, and o’er his swarthy brow
Swept lines of anguish, as if he a thousand years of pain
Had lived and suffered. Then across the heaving, sullen main
The tempest shrieked triumphant, and the angry waters hissed
Their vengeful hate against the toy they oftentimes had kissed.
And ever through the midnight storm that hapless crew must speed;
They try to round the Stormy Cape, but never can succeed.
And oft when gales are wildest, and the lightning’s vivid sheen
Flashes back the ocean’s anger, still the Phantom Ship is seen
Ever heading to the southward in the fierce tornado’s swoop,
With her ghostly crew and canvas, and her captain on the poop,
Unrelenting, unforgiven; and ’t is said that every word
Of his blasphemous defiance still upon the gale is heard!
But heaven help the luckless ones to whom the sight appears, –
The doom of those is sealed near whom the ghastly sailor steers;
They’ll never reach their destined port,—they’ll see their homes no more, –
They who see the Flying Dutchman – never, never reach the shore!

Algy wishes you all a very happy time this weekend, and hopes that you will not encounter any doomed ghosts… 😀

[Algy is quoting the first line and the final stanza of the poem The Flying Dutchman by the 19th century Irish poet and journalist, John Boyle O’Reilly.]

An Uncomfortable Perch…

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Algy shuffled about on the slatted perch inside the peculiar sheltering structure, wriggling backwards and forwards and from side to side, shifting his weight this way and that in an attempt to get even vaguely comfortable, but it seemed to be a futile endeavour. No matter how he adjusted himself, the hard, cold bars dug into his tail feathers in a most distracting and disagreeable way. However, the odd structure certainly provided shelter from the wind, so he resolved to remain inside just a wee while longer, in case the transport vessel was just around the corner, but in the event that it did not arrive soon he would perhaps seek a more accommodating perch, even if it meant getting cold again…

Algy wishes you all a very happy Sunday, and if you happen to be waiting for something, he hopes that you will find a truly comfortable perch to wait upon, and that you won’t have to wait very long 😀

Life’s Ladder

As Algy explored the harbour at low tide, he found many unusual perches, of which some were better adapted to the needs of a fluffy bird than others… He was particularly interested to discover that, at intervals along the great wall which contained the sea when the tide came in, wooden structures with multiple perches had been provided – presumably to suit the different levels the water might reach – and he wondered how the humans could make use of them. For fluffy birds, at least, they only provided a moderate level of comfort, but as Algy perched on one of the lower levels of such a structure, he found that a poem he had once read came to mind, and he wondered whether it might perhaps provide an explanation:

Unto each mortal who comes to earth
A ladder is given by God at birth,
And up this ladder the soul must go,
Step by step, from the valley below;
Step by step to the center of space
On this ladder of lives to the starting place.

In time departed, which yet endures,
I shaped my ladder and you shaped yours,
Whatever they are, they are what we made,
A ladder of light or a ladder of shade;
A ladder of love or a hateful thing,
A ladder of strength or a wavering string,
A ladder of gold or a ladder of straw –

If toil and trouble and pain are found
Twisted and corded to form each round,
If rusted iron or moldering wood
Is the fragile frame, you must make it good
You must build it over and fashion it strong,
Though the task be as hard as your life is long;
For up this ladder the pathway leads
To earthly pleasures and spirit needs,
For all that may come in another way
Shall be but illusion and will not stay.

[Algy is quoting parts of the poem Life’s Ladder by the late 19th/early 20th century American writer Ella Wheeler Wilcox.}