Accustomed to the Dark…

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In the deep, dismal depths of the Scottish Highland winter, Algy perched in a wee bush which still held a few decorative leaves and looked out into the darkness. Daylight was severely rationed now: the nights lasted well into the mornings, and started again in the mid-afternoons. But Algy knew that the year would soon be turning, and in the meantime he was growing accustomed to the darkness. He was reminded of a poem by Emily Dickinson, which he shares – with lots of fluffy hugs – with all his friends in the northerly latitudes of the world:

We grow accustomed to the Dark –
When Light is put away –
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye –

A Moment – We Uncertain step
For newness of the night –
Then – fit our Vision to the Dark –
And meet the Road – erect –

And so of larger – Darknesses –
Those Evenings of the Brain –
When not a Moon disclose a sign –
Or Star – come out – within –

The Bravest – grope a little –
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead –
But as they learn to see –

Either the Darkness alters –
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight –
And Life steps almost straight.

[Algy is quoting the poem We grow accustomed to the Dark by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson.]

The End of Winter…

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It was a wonderfully sunny day at the very end of winter, heralding the start of an unusually early spring. Algy perched on a rock in the cool afternoon sunshine and gazed at the waves rolling in to the small bay beneath his cliff-side nest. Masses of cloud were building up over the islands to the north, and Algy knew that the fine weather wouldn’t last long, but he was determined to enjoy every minute of it while he could…

Encounter on the Hill

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Algy had a strange encounter on the hill last week…

Shortly after this photo was taken, the black coo cautiously approached Algy, one step at a time, evidently unsure what this strange creature might be. Eventually the coo came close enough to reach out and discover whether a fluffy bird was something a hielan’ coo could eat… Of course Algy knew that coos do not eat birds, but nevertheless he thought it prudent to consider the “encounter” at an end at that point, and fly away to a safer spot where he could not be munched by a large, hairy animal 🙂

By the Orange Buoy…

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It was too altogether too slimy on the jetty, as well as being uncomfortably exposed to the wind, so Algy hopped over to a grassy patch on the foreshore and tucked himself down behind a large orange buoy. Dark showers were sweeping across the sky at regular intervals, but in between the downpours the sun lit up the world with a beautiful, stormy light, and Algy decided to watch it until the next icy squall swept in from the sea…

On the Jetty…

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It was low tide, more or less. Algy flew over to the jetty where the humans did things with boats, perched cautiously on the cold, slippery surface, and turned his back to the freezing wind. It was rather a slimy spot, so Algy didn’t think that he would care to stop there long, but he liked to watch the shimmering light on the shallow water and wet sand…

Bolt and Bar the Shutter…

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The wind howled across the sea, driving battering waves of dense Scotch mist and drenching rain onto the already sodden land. Algy retreated to the shelter of a wee cave which had formed beneath the rocks at the edge of the beach and tried to make himself comfortable. It was pleasantly dry in there, although hard on the tail feathers, but there was little to do by way of amusement except to watch the weather hurtling past outside and listen to the roaring of the wind. As he gazed at his toes, Algy remembered the first verse of a famous poem:

Bolt and bar the shutter,
For the foul winds blow:
Our minds are at their best this night,
And I seem to know
That everything outside us is
Mad as the mist and snow.

[Algy is quoting the first verse of the poem Mad as the Mist and Snow by the late 19th/early 20th century Irish poet William Butler Yeats.]

By a Rock Pool…

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The next day brought no change in the weather: the outside world, if it still existed, was lost somewhere beyond a never ending mass of dense Scotch mist. Visibility was reduced to a few hundred yards at best, and the small part of the world which seemed to remain was blurry and grey.

Algy flew down to the sea, and gazed in the direction where the islands should have been… but as there was nothing out there except a pale, wet fuzziness which drove in among his feathers with surprising force, he decided to find a sheltered spot among the rocks and focus on his more immediate surroundings instead. Even when the rest of the world had vanished, there was plenty to see in the rock pools, so Algy perched on a cold, damp rock at the edge of a pool and spent a happy if damp and chilly half hour watching the tiny creatures beneath the surface going about their daily business…