It was a beautiful late September day, bathed in the hazy, golden light of the soft autumn sun. The northerly breeze was cold, but Algy found himself a sheltered perch on a flat rock by the peaty burn, and spent a happy afternoon just soaking up the warmth of the stone. The burn was low after several weeks of dry weather and – just like Algy – it was in no particular hurry to get anywhere. As Algy watched the play of reflected light on the rocks, and the wee bubbles trickling lazily past him, he remembered a poem about such a day:
The thistledown’s flying, though the winds are all still,
On the green grass now lying, now mounting the hill,
The spring from the fountain now boils like a pot;
Through stones past the counting it bubbles red-hot.
The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread,
The greensward all wracked is, bents dried up and dead.
The fallow fields glitter like water indeed,
And gossamers twitter, flung from weed unto weed.
Hill-tops like hot iron glitter bright in the sun,
And the rivers we’re eying burn to gold as they run;
Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air;
Whoever looks round sees Eternity there.
Listen to the sound of the trickling burn, exactly as Algy heard it while sunbathing on the rock.
[Algy is quoting the poem Autumn by the 19th century English poet John Clare.]