The Triumph of Life

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Algy tucked himself down among the soft mass of dry bracken and last year’s fallen leaves, and reclined there happily, spreading his wings to catch as much of the late winter sun as he could. The sun was strong enough now to dazzle his eyes and cast deep shadows all around him, but its warmth was only the tepid heat of someone who has just woken up from a long, cold winter’s sleep. He rejoiced in the return of the light, however, and was reminded of the opening lines of Shelley’s poem:

Swift as a spirit hastening to his task
Of glory and of good, the Sun sprang forth
Rejoicing in his splendour, and the mask
Of darkness fell from the awakened Earth.

[Algy is quoting the opening lines of the long, unfinished poem The Triumph of Life by the 19th century English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.]

How Long Before Spring?

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Algy flew onwards to the shores of the quiet loch, which, owing to the bitter March wind, was a wee bit less calm than usual. He tucked himself down among the masses of dead bracken beside the shore, trying to ignore the spikes of the numerous bramble stems which wound their way mercilessly through the dry fronds. It was a fine morning, and the loch was unusually blue, but the colours surrounding it were still those of winter, with not a hint of green in sight. Algy wondered how long it would be before the landscape was transformed once again by the touch of spring…

Sunshine and Shadow

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Algy flew over to a spot on the hillside above the deep freshwater loch which lay across the centre of the peninsula, half way between the ocean and the Sound. He was surprised to see that much of the loch’s surface was frozen, despite the sunshine which was warming some of the landscape though not, unfortunately, the place in which he had stopped to rest. The world seemed divided between bleak, freezing shadow and bright, colourful light, and Algy hoped that the bitter wind that was whistling through his feathers would move the clouds along hastily, so that the sun could bring him a wee bit of comfort too.

Winter’s End?

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The ice formations were very pretty, but Algy was beginning to feel cold. He fluttered over to a slightly less chilly perch on a large stone at the edge of the burn and stared at the frozen surface. It was hard to believe that in fact it was almost spring, but the strength of the sunlight which sparkled on the glittering crystals told him that the winter was truly over, even though surface appearances might seem to be to the contrary. Suddenly he heard the sound of a small bird twittering in a nearby tree, and knew that he was right. It would not be long now before the skylarks were ascending again, singing their glorious songs of spring over the moorland and the sand dunes by Algy’s home 🙂

 

What art thou, frost?

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Algy alighted cautiously on the frozen surface of the burn, and perched as lightly as he could on the sparkling crystals. He wondered whether the ice would hold his weight, or whether he would suddenly be plunged into the freezing water, which he could see bubbling through a narrow channel to his side, and feel tickling him through his chilly perch as it gurgled beneath him. He was reminded of some lines from an old poem:

What art thou, frost? and whence are thy keen stores
Deriv’d, thou secret all-invading power,
Whom ev’n th’ illusive fluid cannot fly?
Is not thy potent energy, unseen,
Myriads of little salts, or hook’d, or shap’d
Like double wedges, and diffus’d immense
Through water, earth, and ether? Hence at eve,
Steam’d eager from the red horizon round,
With the fierce rage of Winter deep suffus’d,
An icy gale, oft shifting, o’er the pool
Breathes a blue film, and in its mid-career
Arrests the bickering stream. The loosen’d ice,
Let down the flood and half dissolv’d by day,
Rustles no more; but to the sedgy bank
Fast grows, or gathers round the pointed stone,
A crystal pavement, by the breath of heaven
Cemented firm; till, seiz’d from shore to shore,
The whole imprison’d river growls below.

Algy sends special fluffy hugs to all his friends in the frozen north this weekend, to help you all keep warm this weekend, and he says “If you venture out onto the ice, please take great care!” xo

[Algy is quoting a few line lines from Winter, part of the long poem cycle The Seasons by the 18th century Scottish poet James Thomson.]

Blue Skies

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Although much of the burn was frozen and the air was bitterly cold, the sun was shining brightly and the sky was a beautifully clear blue… a rare phenomenon in the wild west Highlands of Scotland…

So Algy tucked himself down among the dry grasses on the sunny side of the burn, and leaned back happily against the steep bank which sheltered him from the fearsome east wind. He could see that water was still flowing here and there beneath the ice, and it made delightful trickling, gurgling sounds as it pressed on down the frozen hillside towards the sea. It was a fine day for adventuring 🙂

A Strange Transformation

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When Algy ventured out the next day, he discovered to his surprise that the world had undergone a strange transformation. Everywhere that there should have been water, there was now something else instead, and it was very cold! Experimenting cautiously at first, he tried perching on what should have been the middle of the flowing burn, and found that he could glide over the surface with ease… that is, if he could tolerate a freezing pain in the tail feathers!