Algy flew into the woodland, to a spot where the trees enclosed a beautiful lochan which formed a perfect mirror. Concealing himself in a straggly heather bush near a bed of water lilies, Algy gazed out at the water and the reflections of the trees, thinking of all his human friends in these deeply troubled times, and especially of his friends in France and Germany. In the peace and calm of the West Highland woodlands, he whispered these verses by the poet John Keats, for all his friends whose souls are wrapped in gloom just now:

When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

[Algy is quoting the first two verses and the last verse from the poem To Hope by the early 19th century English poet John Keats.]

The days were very short and dark now, and the light was low and diffuse, but the woodland was still full of colour. Algy did not care for the constant storms, the battering rain, sleet and hail or the bitter winds, but he loved the beautiful winter colours of the Scottish Highlands, and the wonderful structures of the trees and other plants that were only revealed when the leaves were gone. Even the bracken, which in summer turned everything a sickly bright green, took on beautiful colours in the cold half of the year, especially when it was wet. In fact, if it wasn’t for the weather, it would be just fine 🙂

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.

Close by the river, Algy discovered a large swathe of wild bluebells, just coming into flower. He found a perch in the middle of the fragrant blue carpet and sat there very quietly, just listening to the spring sounds of the woodlands. There were many birds singing in the trees, and he was reminded of a poem by Yeats:

I have heard the pigeons of the Seven Woods
Make their faint thunder, and the garden bees
Hum in the lime-tree flowers; and put away
The unavailing outcries and the old bitterness
That empty the heart.  I have forgot awhile
Tara uprooted, and new commonness
Upon the throne and crying about the streets
And hanging its paper flowers from post to post,
Because it is alone of all things happy.
I am contented, for I know that Quiet
Wanders laughing and eating her wild heart
Among pigeons and bees, while that Great Archer,
Who but awaits His hour to shoot, still hangs
A cloudy quiver over Pairc-na-lee.

[Algy is quoting the poem In the Seven Woods – the opening verse in the book of the same name – by the late 19th/early 20th century Irish poet William Butler Yeats.]                 

West Highland woodlands are very rarely without a supply of fresh running water, so when Algy set out to explore the woods he soon came upon a pretty wee waterfall. Although the late autumn sun was very low in the sky, it still conveyed some slight warmth, so Algy perched for a while on a sunlit branch, to watch the tumbling water and listen to the sounds that it made

Algy started to follow the course of the burn downstream, and before long he found that – as other wee burns joined in to the flow – it had almost swelled into a river. Soon he reached a particularly beautiful area, where the water spread out across a shallow bed, bordered on each side by tall trees. Although the autumn sun was low in the sky, it was bright and warm in this sheltered spot, so Algy decided that it was the ideal place in which to doze away a lazy Sunday afternoon, just watching the water swirl gently around and around.

Algy hopes that you will all enjoy a happy, lazy Sunday afternoon :-))

As the day progressed, the mist gradually slid back up the mountains and merged with the clouds once again. And then, little by little, the great mass of cloud began to break up, and the sun shone through. Suddenly the world was full of beautiful colours. Algy felt happy and lighthearted; he took to the wing, and flew for a few miles down the shores of the great loch, looking at all the scenery in its early summer finery. After a while he spotted the first foxgloves of the year, and paused to rest beside them in the afternoon sunshine. The woods behind him were bordered with rhododendrons in full flower – a beautiful sight, although a threat to the native woodland. It had turned into a lovely afternoon, and as he reclined beneath the foxgloves, looking out across the loch, he was reminded of a poem:

          The dawn laughs out on orient hills
          And dances with the diamond rills;
          The ambrosial wind but faintly stirs
          The silken, beaded gossamers;
          In the wide valleys, lone and fair,
          Lyrics are piped from limpid air,
          And, far above, the pine trees free
          Voice ancient lore of sky and sea.
          Come, let us fill our hearts straightway
          With hope and courage of the day.

          Noon, hiving sweets of sun and flower,
          Has fallen on dreams in wayside bower,
          Where bees hold honeyed fellowship
          With the ripe blossom of her lip;
          All silent are her poppied vales
          And all her long Arcadian dales,
          Where idleness is gathered up
          A magic draught in summer’s cup.
          Come, let us give ourselves to dreams
          By lisping margins of her streams.

Algy hopes that you are all enjoying “a magic draught in summer’s cup” too :))

[Algy is quoting the first two verses of the poem A Summer Day by the early 20th century Canadian poet and author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.]

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 :))

It was very pleasant in the woods, and sheltered from the cold north wind, so Algy decided to stay there for a wee while. The twisting brances of the old oak trees made excellent perches, and Algy tried out several for size, but found that they were all very comfortable, and well adapted to the needs of a fluffy bird.

As he perched there under the emerging canopy, swinging his legs and looking around at all the fresh green and gold leaves, he remembered a famous poem by Robert Frost. Notwithstanding the symbolic intent of the verse, Algy was greatly comforted by the thought that in the woodlands, at least, the “gold” would in fact return again with each new spring :))

          Nature’s first green is gold,
          Her hardest hue to hold.
          Her early leaf’s a flower;
          But only so an hour.
          Then leaf subsides to leaf.
          So Eden sank to grief,
          So dawn goes down to day.
          Nothing gold can stay.

[Algy is quoting the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay by the 20th century American poet Robert Frost.]