On either side of the pass the mountain sides rose up quite steeply, until they vanished into the low clouds which drifted constantly along the ridges. Everything was dripping and soggy from the mist, so Algy perched rather awkwardly in a young birch tree, to avoid soaking his feathers on the wet ground. It wasn’t exactly raining, but then, on the other hand, it wasn’t exactly not raining … “And that’s the West Highland summer for you,” Algy grumbled to himself.

Algy thought of all his friends far away, and particularly of his special Tumblr friend Ted in the USA, who celebrated his 40th birthday a few days ago, and who seems to love the Scottish Highland landscape. Algy sends you a big fluffy hug and late congratulations on your 40th birthday, Ted – and a thousand thanks for all your support and encouragement, and your reblogging of his adventures on the excellent LuxLit 🙂 May you have many, many more happy years ahead, and make many more wonderful images :))

Algy was thoroughly fed up with the gloomy grey skies and constant mist and rain which had persisted throughout the so-called summer. Although there was little sign of any forthcoming change in the weather (except for the worse), he decided to set out on an adventure, in the hope that a change of scene would be better than no change at all. After he had travelled some distance the rain stopped for a while, so Algy stopped too, and rested among the heather beside the old road through the pass. No-one had travelled along this road for years, and very slowly, inch by inch, patches of lichen were spreading across it to cover the man-made pink and grey surface with their subtler, more delicate colours.

The wind blew fresh from the north and the air felt chill: summer was over and autumn was closing in fast. The mists loitered all day around the hilltops, never very far away. The swallows and other migrant birds were preparing to leave, and some had already gone, but the heather was blooming – the last hurrah of the West Highland summer. Algy nestled among the tiny fragrant bells, and listened to the wind sighing in the trees behind him as the damp mist swept back down from the hill. He was glad of the wind, even though it was bringing a change of season:

          A host of poppies, a flight of swallows;  
          A flurry of rain, and a wind that follows  
          Shepherds the leaves in the sheltered hollows
             For the forest is shaken and thinned.

          Over my head are the firs for rafter;
          The crows blow south, and my heart goes after;
          I kiss my hands to the world with laughter—
             Is it Aidenn or mystical Ind?

          Oh, the whirl of the fields in the windy weather!
          How the barley breaks and blows together!  
          Oh, glad is the free bird afloat on the heather—
             Oh, the whole world is glad of the wind!

[Algy is quoting An Old Road by the late 19th/early 20th century American poet Edwin Markham.]

It was butterfly day! After weeks of rain every day, the sun eventually put in an appearance – and suddenly Algy was surrounded by beautiful butterflies. So he flew up into a large buddleia bush and spent a very happy afternoon just watching the butterflies flitting all around him in the breeze, and listening to the tiny fluttering sounds of their wings as they brushed past him.

Today – just one day after her Diamond Wedding Anniversary – one of Algy’s oldest friends celebrates her 85th birthday. So despite the brisk wind which made his hair stand quite on end, Algy went in search of some bonnie heather, to bring her luck and wish her a very Happy Birthday xx

He also sang a song for her, Ca’ the Yowes to the Knowes, by Robert Burns. The chorus goes like this:

           Ca’ the yowes to the knowes,
           Ca’ them where the heather grows
           Ca’ them where the burnie rows,
                My bonnie dearie.

If you like traditional Scottish music, listen to this version sung by the contemporary Scottish folk singer Andy M. Stewart.

{Note: Burns wrote in Scots, the language of the Scottish lowlands.}

Today is a very special day indeed, because on this day Algy’s oldest friends celebrate their Diamond Wedding Anniversary! Please join Algy in sending them many, many congratulations on this amazing 60th anniversary of their marriage xx

It was in the days when they were first married that Algy’s old friends first saw the beautiful sight of the Hebridean islands lying off the west coast of Scotland – a sight which they have loved ever since. So to celebrate his friends’ wonderfully long-lasting marriage, Algy found a perch looking out at his own local Hebridean islands, and recited Shakespeare’s classic sonnet, which could have been written specially for them:

          Let me not to the marriage of true minds
          Admit impediments. Love is not love
          Which alters when it alteration finds,
          Or bends with the remover to remove.
          O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
          That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
          It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
          Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
          Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
          Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
          Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
          But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
          If this be error and upon me prov’d,
          I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

[Algy is reciting Sonnet CXVI by William Shakespeare.]

Algy had a very special card to post, so he set out towards the local postbox just as the day was drawing to a close. But the moist evening air was so heavy with the scent of the bog myrtle leaves that he became distracted. Algy knew that the post would not be uplifted until the next morning in any case, so he thought that it would be all right if he paused for a while en route, to rest on a rock and breathe in the aromatic fragrance all around him.