A pretty burn ran across the peaty moorland, close by the forest, and in places it had carved deep channels through the underlying rock, creating a series of miniature cliffs around enticing pools. It was far too cold to consider entering the water: despite the sunshine, there were still thin sheets of white ice in the shadier spots near the edges of the stream. But Algy found that it was very pleasant to recline on a flat rock in the sun, and watch the thousands of diamonds sparkling on the surface of the water as it tumbled over the pebbles and rough stone on its way down the hillside towards the sea.

Algy moved to south-facing spot, where he could watch the sunlight filtering through the forest canopy; it made a pretty pattern of shadow and soft light. Although it was mid-October, everything was still very green, but the forest was hushed, and there was little sound except the inevitable trickling of a burn, hidden by the trees, and the occasional singing of a robin, staking his autumn claim to his woodland territory.

Algy found a soft perch on a wee mossy bank on the forest floor, in a spot where the sunbeams could warm his face feathers. It was a peaceful, sheltered place to while away a Saturday afternoon, so he settled down happily to ponder on adventures, forests, poetry, and other sundry delights… As he gazed upwards through the tangle of old branches at the complex patchwork of shadow and light above him, he remembered a poem:

          Out of the deep and the dark,
          A sparkling mystery, a shape,
          Something perfect,
          Comes like the stir of the day:
          One whose breath is an odor,
          Whose eyes show the road to stars,
          The breeze in his face,
          The glory of heaven on his back.
          He steps like a vision hung in air,
          Diffusing the passion of eternity;
          His abode is the sunlight of morn,
          The music of eve his speech:
          In his sight,
          One shall turn from the dust of the grave,
          And move upward to the woodland.

Algy hopes you will all find a sheltered, peaceful spot in the sun this weekend 🙂

[Algy is quoting the poem The Poet by the early 20th century Japanese poet Yone Noguchi.]

The sun was sparkling vigorously on the sea, and the wind was ruffling backwards and forwards through Algy’s feathers as though to say it was about time to be up, up and away. It was the beginning of the West Highland summer and, like most folk at the start of summer, Algy had itchy feet… or, more accurately in his case, itchy wings. As he watched the restless play of the sunlight on the water, it seemed to him that it was time for a wee bit of adventuring…

As the sun grew stronger, Algy retreated into the old oak woods by the banks of the quieter loch. Everything was fresh and green and beautiful there in the dappled sunlight. It was very quiet apart from the songs of the other birds, as there are no paths through these woods to bring noisy visitors to disturb the peace. Algy sat on a rock and studied the mosses and ferns, thinking of a verse by Lord Byron:

          There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
          There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
          There is society, where none intrudes,
          By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
          I love not man the less, but Nature more,
          From these our interviews, in which I steal
          From all I may be, or have been before,
          To mingle with the Universe, and feel
          What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

[Algy is quoting verse CLXXVIII from Lord Byron’s extremely long narrative poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.]

It was a wee bit windy, of course, but the sun was shining brightly for once. Algy found himself a sheltered perch on a warm rock low down by the side of the burn, at a point where it tumbled over some rocks before descending through the woodland towards the sea. He could happily watch the play of shadows on the sparkling water for hours, soothed by the constant sound of the waterfall above.

Listen to the soporific sound of the waterfall which lulled Algy to sleep in the afternoon sun.

The tide turned, the wind dropped, and the sun emerged from beneath the clouds to make the water of the big sea loch sparkle in all its many colours. By the side of the loch, the gorse was in bloom. Algy loves the cheerful colour of the gorse which flowers so bravely in the cold Highland spring, but the bushes are much too prickly to perch on, so he settled himself comfortably in a sunny spot on the grass and got out his notebook …