Sea Symphony in Silver…

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Summer does not last long in the wild West Highlands of Scotland – if indeed it arrives at all – and as July gave way to August there was a distinct and melancholy change in the air, as though autumn were here already. Waves of heavy rain swept in across the Atlantic on strong, cool winds, and when the sun occasionally emerged, in between the showers, the world appeared in the muted, silvery colours typical of the equinox, instead of the strong hues of summer. However, Algy knew that in fact it was only early August, and as he watched the diamonds sparkling on the water and the wet sand, he hoped that there might still be a chance of some warm sunshine before the long Highland winter began in earnest…

And the next day…

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And the next day… the sun came out! Algy was so astonished that at first he didn’t know what to do. The mist had returned to wherever it came from, at least for the moment, and the landscape was entirely transformed: all the fuzzy greyness had vanished, and the world was crisp and sharp, and full of light and colour again. As he flew over his assistants’ garden, Algy noticed something especially colourful, hiding among a tangle of very thorny stems… Like many of his feathered friends, Algy loves berries of all kinds, so before flying back to the sea, he settled down to enjoy a summery feast of juicy tayberries 🙂

[For those who may not know: tayberries are a hybrid of raspberries and blackberries, bred in Scotland, and well suited to our… climate here. They are large and juicy and very tasty, if you don’t require your fruit too sweet.]

The Mist

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As the glorious West Highland summer continued, Algy reclined on the dripping leaves of a garden hedge, wondering how long it would take for the tiny droplets of dense mist to soak right through his feathers. There was no point looking out to sea, as the sea had not been visible for quite some time. And there was no point watching the sky, as the sky had long since vanished. So Algy struck up a conversation with a song thrush who, despite the weather, had been yodelling vigorously in a tree nearby. The thrush was not a particularly well-read bird, so for his benefit Algy recited an appropriate poem, in the hope that the thrush would add it to his repertoire:

I am the mist, the impalpable mist,
Back of the thing you seek.
My arms are long,
Long as the reach of time and space.

Some toil and toil, believing,
Looking now and again on my face,
Catching a vital, olden glory.

But no one passes me,
I tangle and snare them all.
I am the cause of the Sphinx,
The voiceless, baffled, patient Sphinx.

I was at the first of things,
I will be at the last.
I am the primal mist
And no man passes me;
My long impalpable arms
Bar them all.

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

And the mist came down again…

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It was the 1st July, and the West Highland summer continued in all its glory… There had scarcely been a single fine day since the middle of May, and as the temperature soared to a high of 14 degrees celsius (before wind chill), Algy clung on desperately to a tangle of honeysuckle in the driving Scotch mist, and wondered whether this “summer” would ever come to an end…

Algy sends you all lots of very damp fluffy hugs, and if you are one of his friends who suffer from excess heat in the summer months, he sends you an abundance of very cool, damp air xoxo

Flaming June…

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For days and days and days – that felt like weeks and months and years – the dense Scotch mist had smothered the West Highlands of Scotland with a dark and exceedingly thick wet blanket. Algy had heard a distant rumour that this would be the hottest, sunniest weekend of the year to date… in the UK…

So, in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of the year, Algy perched on a dripping fence post and studied the moss growing on top of the post in front of him. As most of the world had vanished, it was almost all he could see, but he was glad to discover that at least some things seemed to thrive in these conditions…

Flaming June, they call it.

April is the Cruellest Month…

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Most days were grey – either cold, damp and dreary, or drenched in heavy rain and dense Scotch mist. But from time to time the sun shone, and then Algy found a perch where he could feel a wee bit warmer and drier, and watch the play of light on the sea or the wee burn which had found itself a new path across the beach, twisting in and out of the masses of rock in a mysteriously elaborate pattern.

It was undoubtedly spring; the light was much stronger, the days were much longer, and the skylarks were singing merrily above the sand dunes… and yet the air was cold and the wind was sharp. Algy was inevitably reminded of T. S. Eliot’s famous opening lines from The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

[Algy is quoting the opening lines of that most famous of early 20th century poems, The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot.]

Sunbathing…

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Algy hopped over to a denser patch of Marram grass, and made himself comfortable on a bed of the long, curving stems. It felt almost warm, tucked in there among the dry grasses of the sand dunes, and Algy began to doze happily in the sunshine, while the waves played merrily on the beach in front of him.