Some very nasty weather was on its way, bringing the first of the winter gales, so Algy made the most of one final opportunity to enjoy the colours – and some autumn sunshine – before the storm swept in to blow all the leaves off the trees and turn the world to grey.

As he perched on a mossy stump beneath an old oak tree, he thought of the famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Summer-rich
Then; and then
Autumn-changed
Soberer-hued
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall’n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.

[Algy is quoting the poem The Oak by the 19th century English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

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.

The next day, Algy flew on across the great sea loch and into a large forest on the other side. The trees towered high above the forest floor, much taller than in the more exposed woodlands he was used to;  Algy lay back among the ferns and deep mosses and gazed upwards in amazement at the tree trunks reaching for the sky. He was reminded of the opening lines of a poem by Longfellow:

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

[Algy is quoting the opening lines of the epic poem Evangeline: A Tale Of Acadie by the 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.]

It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny and calm, and ideal for exploring the woodlands. Algy flew on through the trees until he reached a burn tumbling down the hillside through a rocky channel, and paused to rest on a fallen branch. It was peaceful and warm in the dappled sunlight, so he dozed there for a while, listening to the sound of the water trickling around the moss-covered stones below him and the quiet rustlings of the woods around him.

Algy crossed the great sea loch and headed for the woodlands at the foot of the mountains.There was a particular spot by the river where he liked to perch and watch the water flow. The weather was feeling very moody, and Algy was not entirely surprised to see some fresh snow on the mountain tops, even though it was now the third week of May.

When the Scotch mist came down during the winter months, the bare trees looked more beautiful than ever. Algy loved to sit and gaze at the wonderful maze of twisty branches silhouetted against the pale, hazy background, and study the rich pattern of lichens which would be hidden when the leaves returned. As he perched on a rock beneath the wet branches, he felt a constant soft drip, drip, dripping on his head, and remembered a haiku by Matsuo Bashō. Soon it would indeed be spring:

          Spring rain
          conveyed under the trees
          in drops.

This post is dedicated to Algy’s friend lillianhowan, who is currently setting up a new online literary magazine nimbuscat on Tumblr. The first issue, to be published this spring, will be devoted to writing on the subject of wood 🙂

[ Algy is quoting a haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Matsuo Bashō. ]

Algy had begun to feel that although it was unquestionably exciting and a lot of fun to help his assistant with his crowdfunding campaign, it was also very tiring, and a challenging occupation for a fluffy bird. He longed to be out and about adventuring in the wild places again, so when he noticed that his assistant was fully absorbed in her work, Algy slipped quietly away and flew over to the old oak woods, where everything was peaceful and calm. The hillside woodland was very open, especially now that the trees had shed their leaves for the winter, and among the rocky outcrops there were many banks of deep heather where a weary fluffy bird could find a soft perch. So Algy picked a spot where he could rest comfortably, and for an hour or two – or three – he dozed there happily, pretending that he too was an ancient rock among the woodland heather…

Algy decided to investigate the forest behind his back, so he turned away from the great loch for a while and flew in under the trees. Here the tree trunks grew straight and tall, and very close together in places. The forest floor was mossy and soft, but surprisingly dark. Just a wee bit further on, Algy could see a bright, sunlit clearing, full of flowers and light, but in the permanent twilight beneath the trees everything was hushed and calm. He perched for a while on an old log, listening attentively to the quiet rustling of the tree tops high above him and the tiny sounds of unseen insects scuttling about among the old leaves which covered the ground. It was certainly pleasant to rest quietly in the dimmed stillness of the forest before venturing out into the dazzling light beyond.

The woodlands bordered the loch, and in some places the ground dropped away steeply towards the water. Algy found himself a new perch in a twisted oak tree at the top of a slope, where he could relax and watch the play of light and water through the new spring leaves of the trees lower down the hillside. All around him, the woodland birds were singing their spring songs, and rustling among the leaves and on the mossy ground below as they went about their business. It was a lovely spot in which to while away a Sunday afternoon, and Algy hopes that you too will find such a beautiful spot in which to relax and rest :))