The weather had settled into its usual November pattern of wind and gloomy rain, punctuated by frequent biting showers of hail. Algy’s feathers were feeling very soggy, and his tree was growing awfully bare. He tried to look on the bright side, but no matter where he looked he came to the same conclusion – it was cold and dark and very, very wet …

It was an exceedingly grey, soggy sort of day, but Algy was in very high spirits because his old friend had gone home from the hospital today and was even able to walk up the stairs! His friend was resting in bed again just now, and Algy knew that he would have many challenges ahead on his road to recovery, but he was already making excellent progress. So Algy flew up into his tree and sang a celebratory song in the mist, right at the top of his voice so that his old friend would be able to hear him, many, many miles away.

Algy’s old friend has asked him to tell you all how deeply touched he has been by your kind thoughts and wishes from around the world. It has been a great help to him at this difficult time, and enormously encouraging and heartwarming. Thank you all very much :)) xx

Algy’s poor old friend in the hospital was feeling very unwell after his operation and suffering a lot of pain, so Algy flew to his friend’s favourite spot on the great sea loch – a place where he knew his friend would like to be right now. Algy perched in a tree which his friend knew well, and gazed out down the loch towards the ocean and the light, sending special healing thoughts south on the breeze to help his friend.

The West Highland summer had returned to normal, and everything was really very wet, including Algy. He tucked himself in tight against the trunk of his tree and let the rain beat upon his head and sing him a lullaby:

          Let the rain kiss you.
          Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
          Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

          The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
          The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
          The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

          And I love the rain.

[Algy is quoting the poem April Rain Song by Langston Hughes.]

This is the time of year when Algy is able to watch beautiful Hebridean sunsets over the sea and islands from his own tree, and he recites to himself:

          This is the land the sunset washes,
          These are the banks of the Yellow Sea;
          Where it rose, or whither it rushes,
          These are the western mystery!

          Night after night her purple traffic
          Strews the landing with opal bales;
          Merchantmen poise upon horizons,
          Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.

[Algy is reciting Emily Dickinson’s poem This is the land the sunset washes.]

As Algy sat on a low, broken branch by the side of the loch in the still of the evening, he thought of the popular poem by the Welsh poet W. H. Davies. Of course Algy prefers to perch on boughs rather than stand beneath them, but he certainly shares the poem’s general sentiment:

          What is this life if, full of care,
          We have no time to stand and stare.

          No time to stand beneath the boughs
          And stare as long as sheep or cows.

          No time to see, when woods we pass,
          Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

          No time to see, in broad daylight,
          Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

[Algy is quoting part of the poem Leisure by William Henry Davies.]

Although the garden was beautiful, Algy knew that he didn’t really belong there. The time had come to find his way back home, but as he didn’t know how he had got there, he wasn’t sure which way to set off. He looked around for the tallest tree in the garden and flew up into its highest branches. From there he could see for miles, and in the distance he spotted the gleam of a very long stretch of water which he felt sure was the great sea loch.

So Algy took a deep breath, said farewell to the lovely garden, and launched himself towards the loch so that he could follow its shores for a while. He took comfort from the thought that as he now knew where the garden was hidden, he could return again next spring, as the other birds do.

At this time of year the nights are light, and Algy finds it difficult to sleep. There was a beautiful crescent moon sinking down behind the ridge, so Algy found a perch in his tree and watched the moon set. It reminded him of a haiku by Yosa Buson, the Japanese master:

          The short night –
          Broken, in the shallows,
          A crescent moon.