Algy lay back happily on the soft carpet of mosses and dry bracken, and gazed up through the trees at the beautiful blue sky. He knew only too well that the wind and the rain would soon return, but on such a day he was just going to relax and “be”, as the poet Longfellow suggested.

Algy was thinking especially of his Tumblr friend Leonard Adams, who had so kindly dedicated the very first post on his new blog spilledfromthecradle to Algy’s adventures. Algy knew that his friend loved the woodlands too, although the forests around his home four thousand miles away were conceived on a rather grander scale, and were covered in ice and snow just now. Algy hoped that very soon the snow would melt and his friend would be able to return to his woodland walks, and enjoy a perfect day like this one:

          O gift of God! O perfect day:
          Whereon shall no man work, but play;
          Whereon it is enough for me,
          Not to be doing, but to be!
          Through every fibre of my brain,
          Through every nerve, through every vein,
          I feel the electric thrill, the touch
          Of life, that seems almost too much.
          I hear the wind among the trees
          Playing celestial symphonies;
          I see the branches downward bent,
          Like keys of some great instrument.
          And over me unrolls on high
          The splendid scenery of the sky,
          Where through a sapphire sea the sun
          Sails like a golden galleon…

Algy hopes that you will all enjoy a truly relaxed weekend, and that the sun will shine in your hearts even if it may not be shining on your heads 🙂

[Algy is quoting part of the poem A Day of Sunshine from Birds of Passage: Flight the Second by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.]

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…

Deep in the woods, the hillsides were surprisingly steep. A massive Atlantic Oak tree had lost its footing in an ancient storm, and its great trunk now made a wonderful horizontal perch for a fluffy bird, or for any other creature who happened to come along. It was covered in soft, deep mosses and lichens, and young ferns were springing up along the old branches, turning them green once again.

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.]

Many of the trees were twisted and gnarled, and much battered by the ravages of the winter storms, but in the early summer calm they were all at peace, and so was Algy. He sat quietly on his rock in the filtered sunshine and listened to all the tiny, gentle sounds of the forest and its creatures.

Algy would like to dedicate this post to all those who suffer from periods of darkness, from whatever cause. He hopes you will find the sunshine filtering through the canopy and lighting up your lives, as it lights up the forest floor 🙂

Sunny afternoons in late spring are among the very best times of the whole West Highland year, and Algy didn’t want to miss a single moment of them. He knew that they would soon be gone, at least until next year. So he went out to explore the oak woods in their beautiful new spring green. A tall old tree offered a handy perch, and Algy decided to practise sitting like an owl, in case he should happen to meet one. Down below him the loch lay calm and blue, while above the trees there was scarcely a cloud in the sky. It was indeed a fine afternoon.

The weather had reverted to a more normal state, and everything was dripping, dripping, dripping … Algy tucked himself close into the rocks underneath a low branch, on a nice soft cushion of moss. Although it was the middle of April, he could scarcely see any signs of spring yet in the West Highland woods.