And the next day…

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And the next day… the sun came out! Algy was so astonished that at first he didn’t know what to do. The mist had returned to wherever it came from, at least for the moment, and the landscape was entirely transformed: all the fuzzy greyness had vanished, and the world was crisp and sharp, and full of light and colour again. As he flew over his assistants’ garden, Algy noticed something especially colourful, hiding among a tangle of very thorny stems… Like many of his feathered friends, Algy loves berries of all kinds, so before flying back to the sea, he settled down to enjoy a summery feast of juicy tayberries 🙂

[For those who may not know: tayberries are a hybrid of raspberries and blackberries, bred in Scotland, and well suited to our… climate here. They are large and juicy and very tasty, if you don’t require your fruit too sweet.]

The Mist

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As the glorious West Highland summer continued, Algy reclined on the dripping leaves of a garden hedge, wondering how long it would take for the tiny droplets of dense mist to soak right through his feathers. There was no point looking out to sea, as the sea had not been visible for quite some time. And there was no point watching the sky, as the sky had long since vanished. So Algy struck up a conversation with a song thrush who, despite the weather, had been yodelling vigorously in a tree nearby. The thrush was not a particularly well-read bird, so for his benefit Algy recited an appropriate poem, in the hope that the thrush would add it to his repertoire:

I am the mist, the impalpable mist,
Back of the thing you seek.
My arms are long,
Long as the reach of time and space.

Some toil and toil, believing,
Looking now and again on my face,
Catching a vital, olden glory.

But no one passes me,
I tangle and snare them all.
I am the cause of the Sphinx,
The voiceless, baffled, patient Sphinx.

I was at the first of things,
I will be at the last.
I am the primal mist
And no man passes me;
My long impalpable arms
Bar them all.

[Algy is reciting the poem The Mist by the 20th century American poet Carl Sandburg.]

And the mist came down again…

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It was the 1st July, and the West Highland summer continued in all its glory… There had scarcely been a single fine day since the middle of May, and as the temperature soared to a high of 14 degrees celsius (before wind chill), Algy clung on desperately to a tangle of honeysuckle in the driving Scotch mist, and wondered whether this “summer” would ever come to an end…

Algy sends you all lots of very damp fluffy hugs, and if you are one of his friends who suffer from excess heat in the summer months, he sends you an abundance of very cool, damp air xoxo

Eventually, the mist lifted…

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Eventually the wind swung round to the north and the mist lifted, at least until the wind changed again… Algy was so relieved to see some light and colour in the world once more that he flew straight down to the sea and found himself a perch on a rock where the tide was washing in. The world looked entirely different on a fine day, and Algy couldn’t help wishing that it would be fine just a wee bit more often… But there was little he could do to influence the weather, so he decided to make the most of the sunshine while it lasted, even though the wind was still decidedly cool.

Flaming June…

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For days and days and days – that felt like weeks and months and years – the dense Scotch mist had smothered the West Highlands of Scotland with a dark and exceedingly thick wet blanket. Algy had heard a distant rumour that this would be the hottest, sunniest weekend of the year to date… in the UK…

So, in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of the year, Algy perched on a dripping fence post and studied the moss growing on top of the post in front of him. As most of the world had vanished, it was almost all he could see, but he was glad to discover that at least some things seemed to thrive in these conditions…

Flaming June, they call it.

Back to the Beach :)

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The weather had been unpleasantly wintry in the latter part of April: temperatures had dropped to near freezing, bitter northerly gales had brought frequent showers of sleet and snow, and all the creatures of the west Highlands, Algy included, had taken cover and tried to keep warm as best they could.

But as the month drew to a close, the weather began to change, albeit very slowly, and on Wednesday the wind dropped and the world was filled with light. Although it was still very cold, Algy stretched himself out on the sand in front of the sparkling sea, and marvelled at the beautiful colours it could display when it had a mind to… He was surprised to find a substantial scattering of sea shells on this stretch of the beach, where they only rarely appeared, and wondered how so many could have got there so quickly.

April is the Cruellest Month…

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Most days were grey – either cold, damp and dreary, or drenched in heavy rain and dense Scotch mist. But from time to time the sun shone, and then Algy found a perch where he could feel a wee bit warmer and drier, and watch the play of light on the sea or the wee burn which had found itself a new path across the beach, twisting in and out of the masses of rock in a mysteriously elaborate pattern.

It was undoubtedly spring; the light was much stronger, the days were much longer, and the skylarks were singing merrily above the sand dunes… and yet the air was cold and the wind was sharp. Algy was inevitably reminded of T. S. Eliot’s famous opening lines from The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

[Algy is quoting the opening lines of that most famous of early 20th century poems, The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot.]

The wind howled across the sea, driving battering waves of dense Scotch mist and drenching rain onto the already sodden land. Algy retreated to the shelter of a wee cave which had formed beneath the rocks at the edge of the beach and tried to make himself comfortable. It was pleasantly dry in there, although hard on the tail feathers, but there was little to do by way of amusement except to watch the weather hurtling past outside and listen to the roaring of the wind. As he gazed at his toes, Algy remembered the first verse of a famous poem:

Bolt and bar the shutter,
For the foul winds blow:
Our minds are at their best this night,
And I seem to know
That everything outside us is
Mad as the mist and snow.

[Algy is quoting the first verse of the poem Mad as the Mist and Snow by the late 19th/early 20th century Irish poet William Butler Yeats.]

The next day brought no change in the weather: the outside world, if it still existed, was lost somewhere beyond a never ending mass of dense Scotch mist. Visibility was reduced to a few hundred yards at best, and the small part of the world which seemed to remain was blurry and grey.

Algy flew down to the sea, and gazed in the direction where the islands should have been… but as there was nothing out there except a pale, wet fuzziness which drove in among his feathers with surprising force, he decided to find a sheltered spot among the rocks and focus on his more immediate surroundings instead. Even when the rest of the world had vanished, there was plenty to see in the rock pools, so Algy perched on a cold, damp rock at the edge of a pool and spent a happy if damp and chilly half hour watching the tiny creatures beneath the surface going about their daily business…

A Lonesome Bog…

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The mist was down again. There had been a few clear, sunny days earlier in the week, and Algy had even seen some bright blue sky at times, but such conditions rarely lasted long on the wild west coast of the Scottish Highlands, for the north Atlantic weather systems ensured an almost constant supply of clouds and rain.

Algy found himself a damp perch on a clump of soggy grasses and heather, and gazed into a spontaneous bog pool which was strewn with last year’s grasses, tossed about by the wind. Despite the cold, grey wetness of it all, Algy could detect a change in the air. The rain and the mist and the wind might not stop, but Algy knew that the winter was almost over, and any day now the skylarks would start to sing again, announcing the beginning of a new spring. So Algy peered into the water, wondering whether any frogs were sleeping down below, and murmured one of his favourite silly poems in case they might be listening:

The moon came late to a lonesome bog,
And there sat Goggleky Gluck, the frog.
“My stars!” she cried, and veiled her face,
“What very grand people they have in this place!”

Algy wishes you all a very happy weekend 🙂

[Algy is reciting the short poem The moon came late by the 19th century American writer Mary Mapes Dodge.]