The Flying Dutchman…

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Suddenly, Algy noticed that the din of human voices which he had heard from the other side of the bay had ceased; all was silent, except the creaking of the boats as they swayed against the strange floating structure he was perching upon. Puzzled, Algy flew a wee bit closer. The tall ship appeared to be deserted now, which seemed odd; he hadn’t noticed the humans moving away, and he had seen them bustling about all over it just a short time ago. The clouds were moving swiftly across the sky, creating ever changing patterns of shadow and light, and for a moment the sun illuminated the name which was painted on the side of the boat. Algy gasped and shuddered, then quickly turned away, and pretended to be gazing at something fascinating across the bay, in the opposite direction. The opening lines of a long poem came into his mind… “Long time ago, from Amsterdam a vessel sailed away…” he thought, and then remembered the end of the famous tale:

Once more the lurid light gleamed out, – the ship was still at rest,
The crew were standing at their posts; with arms across his breast
Still stood the captain on the poop, but bent and crouching now
He bowed beneath that flat dread, and o’er his swarthy brow
Swept lines of anguish, as if he a thousand years of pain
Had lived and suffered. Then across the heaving, sullen main
The tempest shrieked triumphant, and the angry waters hissed
Their vengeful hate against the toy they oftentimes had kissed.
And ever through the midnight storm that hapless crew must speed;
They try to round the Stormy Cape, but never can succeed.
And oft when gales are wildest, and the lightning’s vivid sheen
Flashes back the ocean’s anger, still the Phantom Ship is seen
Ever heading to the southward in the fierce tornado’s swoop,
With her ghostly crew and canvas, and her captain on the poop,
Unrelenting, unforgiven; and ’t is said that every word
Of his blasphemous defiance still upon the gale is heard!
But heaven help the luckless ones to whom the sight appears, –
The doom of those is sealed near whom the ghastly sailor steers;
They’ll never reach their destined port,—they’ll see their homes no more, –
They who see the Flying Dutchman – never, never reach the shore!

Algy wishes you all a very happy time this weekend, and hopes that you will not encounter any doomed ghosts… 😀

[Algy is quoting the first line and the final stanza of the poem The Flying Dutchman by the 19th century Irish poet and journalist, John Boyle O’Reilly.]

Distracted…

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While Algy was waiting patiently on the slipway, watching the transport contraption approach slowly but steadily across the sea, he heard the sound of excited human voices carrying across the water from the other side of the bay. Looking round, he noticed an unusual vessel, apparently motionless beside the strange structures which he had seen in that area of the harbour some time before. Forgetting all about the ferry boat for the moment, he decided to fly over to investigate. As he approached, Algy could see that there were several humans clustered round the vessel, and more of them actually upon it, so he thought it might be prudent to observe from a safe distance, just in case fluffy birds were not welcome. Landing on the end of one of the odd platforms which projected out into the bay, he perched on the flat, colourful surface. Although the wind bit him viciously as it whistled through his feathers, the surface itself felt comfortingly warm in the spring sunshine, but he was surprised to find that it seemed to bob up and down with the motion of the sea, which was a wee bit disconcerting, although not too seriously alarming as the weather was more or less calm, and the water seemed to stay firmly in its place…

And there it was…

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Algy was sitting quietly on the uncomfortable perch within the peculiar shelter, trying to get comfortable, when all of a sudden he heard a gentle thrumming noise. He listened carefully, and decided that it was definitely growing louder. Could it be the transport vessel coming to collect him at last? In great excitement he jumped up, flew out of the shelter, and down towards the bottom of the slipway… and there it was, approaching slowly from around the bend which hid the coastline of the island from view. Algy sat down on the edge of the slipway and leaned back on the hard and rather knobbly surface, waiting and watching, watching and waiting, as the ferry boat gradually increased in size…

An Uncomfortable Perch…

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Algy shuffled about on the slatted perch inside the peculiar sheltering structure, wriggling backwards and forwards and from side to side, shifting his weight this way and that in an attempt to get even vaguely comfortable, but it seemed to be a futile endeavour. No matter how he adjusted himself, the hard, cold bars dug into his tail feathers in a most distracting and disagreeable way. However, the odd structure certainly provided shelter from the wind, so he resolved to remain inside just a wee while longer, in case the transport vessel was just around the corner, but in the event that it did not arrive soon he would perhaps seek a more accommodating perch, even if it meant getting cold again…

Algy wishes you all a very happy Sunday, and if you happen to be waiting for something, he hopes that you will find a truly comfortable perch to wait upon, and that you won’t have to wait very long 😀

Still Waiting…

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A cold breeze was starting to whistle across the water, and Algy began to feel a wee bit exposed and chilly out in the open. Looking across to the other side of the slipway, he observed an odd structure which he could see right through, more or less. It was open on one side, and apparently contained a long, silvery perch, possibly for the convenience of those who might seek protection from the wind…

He flew over to the object and inspected it cautiously, trying to determine whether it would be acceptable for a fluffy bird to enter and wait within. A mysterious notice to one side read “RNLI PERSONNEL ONLY”, and for a moment Algy thought that it might be intended to prohibit fluffy birds from the area. But after careful inspection he concluded that although he wasn’t quite sure what the notice meant, it seemed to apply to an area beyond the transparent structure and not to the structure itself. So, as there was no-one else taking advantage of the shelter, Algy eventually decided that there would be no harm in his resting inside, out of the biting wind, while he continued to wait for some transport back home. He settled himself on the edge of the strangely uncomfortable, slatted perch, swinging his legs idly to and fro, and with little else to do except consider the store of poetry he kept inside his head, he began to recite quietly:

Today I will let the old boat stand
Where the sweep of the harbor tide comes in
To the pulse of a far, deep-steady sway.
And I will rest and dream and sit on the deck
Watching the world go by
And take my pay for many hard days gone I remember.

I will choose what clouds I like
In the great white fleets that wander the blue
As I lie on my back or loaf at the rail.
And I will listen as the veering winds kiss me and fold me
And put on my brow the touch of the world’s great will.

Daybreak will hear the heart of the boat beat,
Engine throb and piston play
In the quiver and leap at call of life.
To-morrow we move in the gaps and heights
On changing floors of unlevel seas
And no man shall stop us and no man follow
For ours is the quest of an unknown shore
And we are husky and lusty and shouting-gay.

[Algy is reciting the poem Waiting by the 20th century American poet Carl Sandburg.]

Waiting…

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Algy flew slowly over to the spot where he had first arrived on the island, and perched on a massive, hard structure whose nature he did not understand. It could hardly be intended for the purpose of holding back the sea, as a cliff of natural stone rose directly behind it, but he supposed that the humans had had some reason for building it, and it did provide a convenient and very solid perch for fluffy birds who happened to be waiting for transport.

However, there was no ferry boat anywhere in sight… Algy wondered whether it would indeed come back for him, but he was not in any hurry; the sun was still shining, and it was peaceful just sitting beside the sea, listening to the gentle splashing of the small waves on the slipway. As he settled down contentedly to wait, he remembered a poem from long ago, written by an American naturalist:

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.

[Algy is quoting the poem Waiting by the 19th century American naturalist, essayist and occasional poet, John Burroughs.]

The Turn of the Tide…

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The tide had turned and the sea was rippling its way back over the temporary beach, advancing quietly but with much greater speed than Algy had expected. Soon the boats would be afloat once more…

Algy adjusted his position on the sticky seaweed, preparing himself to leap into the air as soon as the sea reached his toes. He had been dreaming of his own little nest, half way up the cliff by the wild, open ocean, and he was beginning to feel just a wee bit homesick. His trip to this strange, new place had undoubtedly been full of fascinating suprises and discoveries, but it was still an alien environment for a fluffy bird, and he wondered whether the boat which had conveyed him to the island might soon be willing to take him back across the water again…