Algy flew up to the edge of the forest and perched on the chilly ground in the sunshine. It was a beautifully bright day, but the air was cold and the mountain top was decorated with a light coating of snow. Every pocket in the boggy ground was covered with its own thin sheet of ice, which crackled from time to time, and in the shadows the frost still lay thick and crisp and white. But the air was calm and the sun still provided a slight hint of warmth, so Algy rested for a while, absorbing the winter sunshine while he could.

Algy hopes that you will all enjoy a warm and restful weekend 🙂

The weather had been so fine that Algy decided to take a wee trip inland to see the sights. It was always somewhat gloomier there, as the bare, rocky mountains towered high over the deep glen, but the landscape had a certain grandeur, and – like most birds – Algy enjoyed a change of scene from time to time. So he flew all through the morning, and eventually arrived at a spot which he particularly liked, beside a calm, shallow river. Perching on the slender branches of a small tree that had already lost most of its leaves, he watched the dark-and-silver water flowing slowly beneath him on its way towards the great sea loch. It was very different from the bright blue moorland burn he had just left, but it made a fascinating mirror for the woodland that grew all around it. He was reminded of a children’s poem by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Smooth it slides upon its travel,
 Here a wimple, there a gleam—
     O the clean gravel!
     O the smooth stream!

Sailing blossoms, silver fishes,
 Paven pools as clear as air—
     How a child wishes
     To live down there!

We can see our coloured faces
 Floating on the shaken pool
     Down in cool places,
     Dim and very cool;

Till a wind or water wrinkle,
 Dipping marten, plumping trout,
     Spreads in a twinkle
     And blots all out.

See the rings pursue each other;
 All below grows black as night,
     Just as if mother
     Had blown out the light!

Patience, children, just a minute—
 See the spreading circles die;
     The stream and all in it
     Will clear by-and-by.

[Algy is quoting the children’s poem Looking-glass River from the collection A Child’s Garden of Verses by the 19th century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.]

Algy crossed the great sea loch and headed for the woodlands at the foot of the mountains.There was a particular spot by the river where he liked to perch and watch the water flow. The weather was feeling very moody, and Algy was not entirely surprised to see some fresh snow on the mountain tops, even though it was now the third week of May.

Algy found a perch in a bare willow tree, and looked out through the veil of lightly falling snow towards the craggy ridge. His little world seemed strangely transformed, and Algy thought of a haiku by Issa:

          Just by being,
          I’m here –
          in the snow-fall.

This post is especially dedicated to Algy’s sweet friend tinktastichana, who is about to end her annual visit to her home in Japan to return to her home in New York. Algy sends Hana and all his friends lots of snowy fluffy hugs xoxo

[ Algy is quoting a haiku by the 18th century Japanese master Kobayashi Issa. ]



Dear friends at PWS, I am sending you this image from the other side of the rainbow, where I paused in my search for the way home, especially to pose for this fluffy contribution to your October Sunday Selfie :-))

With many fluffy hugs as always, your feathered friend in the West Highlands of Scotland xoxoxo

Thank you for your fluffy selfie-submission, Algy! We love it!

PAFBWS – Photo(grapher)s And Fluffy Birds Worth Seeing

Algy missed the last Selfie Sunday on PWS, so he is very happy indeed to be able to participate in this one. He sends his fluffiest thanks to photosworthseeing for allowing him to join in the fun – and for keeping the Selfie Sundays going, as it must mean a lot of extra work for you all at PWS. There has been a really great response this month, so Algy thinks that maybe he isn’t the only one to enjoy this special PWS event :-))))

Algy was fascinated by the way the clouds rolled around the mountaintops, drifting and swirling in an elaborate dance that never seemed to repeat itself. Sometimes patches of cloud broke away from the sky and slithered down the steep slopes into the glen, or vanished through a narrow pass, never to re-emerge. Algy wondered whether he could ride on a cloud to find his way back home, but decided that it would be more likely to take him deeper into the mountains, so that he too might never return.

As he watched the endless dance of the clouds, Algy thought of his oldest friends, who were about to leave Scotland to return to a softer land, and he remembered a poem by Neil Munro:

          Are you not weary in your distant places,
              Far, far from Scotland of the mist and storm,
          In drowsy airs, the sun-smite on your faces,
              The days so long and warm?
          When all around you lie the strange fields sleeping,
              The dreary woods where no fond memories roam,
          Do not your sad hearts over seas come leaping
              To the highlands and the lowlands of your Home?

          Wild cries the Winter, loud through all our valleys:
              The midnights roar, the grey noons echo back;
          Round steep storm-bitten coasts the eager galleys
              Beat for kind harbours from horizons black;
          We tread the miry roads, the rain-drenched heather,
              We are the men, we battle, we endure!
          God’s pity for you people in your weather
              Of swooning winds, calm seas, and skies demure!

          Wild cries the Winter, and we walk song-haunted
              Over the moors and by the thundering falls,
          Or where the dirge of a brave past is chaunted
              In dolorous dusks by immemorial walls.
          Though rains may thrash on us, the great mists blind us,
              And lightning rend the pine-tree on the hill,
          Yet we are strong, yet shall the morning find us
              Children of tempest all unshaken still.

          We wander where the little grey towns cluster
              Deep in the hills, or selvedging the sea,
          By farm-lands lone, by woods where wildfowl muster
              To shelter from the day’s inclemency;
          And night will come, and then far through the darkling,
          A light will shine out in the sounding glen,
          And it will mind us of some fond eye’s sparkling,
              And we’ll be happy then.

          Let torrents pour then, let the great winds rally,
              Snow-silence fall, or lightning blast the pine;
          That light of Home shines warmly in the valley,
              And, exiled son of Scotland, it is thine.
          Far have you wandered over seas of longing,
              And now you drowse, and now you well may weep,
          When all the recollections come a-thronging
              Of this rude country where your fathers sleep.

          They sleep, but still the hearth is warmly glowing,
              While the wild Winter blusters round their land:
          That light of Home, the wind so bitter blowing –
              Do they not haunt your dreams on alien strand?
          Love, strength, and tempest – oh, come back and share them!
              Here’s the old cottage, here the open door;
          Fond are our hearts although we do not bare them, –
              They’re yours, and you are ours for ever-more.

This post is dedicated especially to Algy’s oldest friends, and also to self-xpression and to any other of Algy’s Scottish friends whose “sad hearts over seas come leaping to the highlands and the lowlands” of their home xoxo

[Algy is quoting the poem To Exiles by the late 19th/early 20th century Scottish writer Neil Munro.]

Algy flew over to a small tree with surprisingly green leaves, and gazed all around. Overhead, dark, rolling clouds concealed the tops of the towering mountains, whose steep slopes were covered with carpets of rich colour interspersed with bare grey rock and patches of scree. Beneath him lay an equally rich carpet of ferns, mosses, grasses and bracken, in a pattern of amazing detail. Here and there Algy could even see a tiny late wildflower, or a patch of heather which had not yet lost its colour. The scene reminded him of a poem by Alfred Noyes:

           On this high altar, fringed with ferns
           That darken against the sky,
           The dawn in lonely beauty burns
           And all our evils die.

           The struggling sea that roared below
           Is quieter than the dew,
           Quieter than the clouds that flow
           Across the stainless blue.

           On this bare crest, the angels kneel
           And breathe the sweets that rise
           From flowers too little to reveal
           Their beauty to our eyes.

[Algy is quoting the first three stanzas of the poem On a Mountain Top by the early 20th century English poet Alfred Noyes.]