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…

The Dawn Treader…

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The tide had receded even further, and the creel boats were leaning listlessly against one another, high and dry. Algy thought it would be fascinating to see the parts of the boats which were usually underwater, so he flew back to the fishermen’s pier and found a convenient perch on a strange object which was suspended against the side of the wharf. The boats looked surprisingly large close to; they towered above him, blocking out the bright sunlight and throwing deep black shadows onto the exposed sea bed. Standing beside the further boat, almost lost in the shadows, a friendly human was very busy doing something mysterious to the underneath of his vessel. Looking up for a moment, he greeted Algy kindly, remarking that it was a fine day, and when Algy returned the greeting and gazed at the boat above the man’s head, he noticed that it had an unusual name, which may be of interest to fans of C. S. Lewis’s Narnia stories…

Becalmed

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Algy was surprised to find a lone, flowering gorse bush growing out of the hard ground beside the strange man-made structures which stretched out across the still water, but it provided a comfortingly familiar perch in strange surroundings, so he settled upon it happily, ignoring the usual prickles to his tail feathers. The wind had dropped entirely for a moment and the harbour was completely still; the surface of the sea glimmered like a mirror, reflecting not only the brightly-painted buildings and the boats, but even the clouds, so that they floated serenely across the water as well as the sky. Such a calm was unusual on the wild west coast of Scotland, and Algy gazed in wonder at the translucent water and the clear reflections, thinking of a poem in his collected works of Longfellow, and wondering when the wind would start to blow again:

Becalmed upon the sea of Thought,
Still unattained the land it sought,
My mind, with loosely-hanging sails,
Lies waiting the auspicious gales.

On either side, behind, before,
The ocean stretches like a floor,–
A level floor of amethyst,
Crowned by a golden dome of mist.

Blow, breath of inspiration, blow!
Shake and uplift this golden glow!
And fill the canvas of the mind
With wafts of thy celestial wind.

Blow, breath of song! until I feel
The straining sail, the lifting keel,
The life of the awakening sea,
Its motion and its mystery!

[Algy is quoting the poem Becalmed by the 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.]

Like a Mirror…

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As he continued to explore the harbour around the fishermen’s pier, Algy suddenly noticed a patch of what looked like spring flowers on the far side of the bay, where many smaller boats were floating in deeper water beside a strange, man-made structure. Flying across to investigate, Algy discovered something very odd. One of the boats, which had been washed up high onto the shore, was full of small daffodils. They were even crowding up through a wee hole at the end. Algy perched beside the flowers for a while, puzzling over this strange phenomenon. Was it possible that soil got thrown into stranded boats during the winter storms, and daffodils seeded themselves there? It hardly seemed likely…

But it was such a beautiful day that Algy decided not to worry his fluffy head too much about things he could not understand… The sun was shining, the sea was exceptionally calm, and the bay looked just like a deep blue mirror. So he leaned back among the flowers and gazed contentedly at the pretty scene, relaxing in the welcome spring sunshine…

Algy wishes you all a very happy Sunday, and hopes that you all have a chance to relax in beautiful surroundings today 😀

What Says the Clock?

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Algy hopped back down onto the beach, keen to try as many different kinds of perch as he could find in this exciting new environment. He noticed that the local birds seemed to be masters of all perches, but when he tested some of the more unusual options he discovered that some were a wee bit more challenging for a fluffy bird than others, requiring a high degree of acrobatic skill and an advanced sense of balance which he had not had a chance to develop adequately…

As he wobbled from side to side, trying not to look foolish – and above all, not to fall off – in full view of the cackling sea birds who were watching him from the water, a loud sound tolled out from behind him, with a deep, clear note. The repeated tone was mesmerizing, and with the tide crawling slowly out further beyond the beached boats, he was inevitably reminded of some verses by one of his favourite poets, which he had noted especially because he had feathers instead of hair…

Saddle and ride, I heard a man say,
Out of Ben Bulben and Knocknarea,
What says the Clock in the Great Clock Tower?
All those tragic characters ride
But turn from Rosses’ crawling tide,
The meet’s upon the mountain-side.
A slow low note and an iron bell.

What brought them there so far from their home.
Cuchulain that fought night long with the foam,
What says the Clock in the Great Clock Tower?
Niamh that rode on it; lad and lass
That sat so still and played at the chess?
What but heroic wantonness?
A slow low note and an iron bell.

Aleel, his Countess; Hanrahan
That seemed but a wild wenching man;
What says the Clock in the Great Clock Tower?
And all alone comes riding there
The King that could make his people stare,
Because he had feathers instead of hair.
A slow low note and an iron bell.

[Algy is quoting the Song for the Severed Head from the play The King of the Great Clock Tower by the 20th century Irish poet William Butler Yeats.]

Messing About in Boats…

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Algy was enchanted by the world he found at the foot of the harbour wall; at high tide this world simply did not exist. Of course elements of it were there at all times, glimpsed beneath the surface of the water when the tide was in, but when the tide ran out, strange things began to happen. Objects which had been floating became grounded on the shingle beach, and those which had been partly submerged were fully revealed, in many cases turning out to be very much larger than Algy had imagined. And, as the water receded, it left behind a miniature landscape of seaweed, coloured pebbles and sea shells, with many other things to discover besides, which the harbour birds swooped upon joyfully, shouting with pleasure.

Close to the wall, a stranded boat was reclining in an inviting manner, and Algy decided to recline for a while too. Tucking himself into one corner, on what seemed to be a perch specially provided for the purpose, he studied the jumble of bits and pieces in front of him. The scene reminded him of something in a story he had read:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing—about—in—boats; messing—”

Someone had certainly been messing about in this one…

Algy lent back lazily, and dreamed of messing about in a boat of his own, bobbing across the water without a care in the world – happy in the knowledge that in reality the boat was firmly grounded on the beach 😀

If you are on holiday today, Algy hopes you are having a safe and happy time, messing about in boats, or doing something equally relaxing…

[Algy is of course quoting a passage from Chapter 1 of The Wind in the Willowsby the early 20th century English author Kenneth Grahame.]