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 moved to a new position on the riverbank, so that he could watch the dazzling patterns of sunlight sparkling on the water. In the distance he could see the mountains which hid the river’s many sources, but for the moment Algy was more interested in the play of shadows and light. It reminded him of a short poem, which he offers with his fluffiest thanks to all those kind followers and curatorial editors who reblog episodes from Algy’s Adventures. Your efforts too often go unacknowledged, but Algy deeply appreciates the way in which you help him reach a wider audience. Thank you all!
If I could
in my hand
and watch it
[Algy is quoting the poem Present Light by the contemporary American writer Charles Ghigna, who Algy understands has the good sense to live up a tree :-)]
p.s. Can’t see Algy? Look again :-)
Algy started to follow the course of the burn downstream, and before long he found that – as other wee burns joined in to the flow – it had almost swelled into a river. Soon he reached a particularly beautiful area, where the water spread out across a shallow bed, bordered on each side by tall trees. Although the autumn sun was low in the sky, it was bright and warm in this sheltered spot, so Algy decided that it was the ideal place in which to doze away a lazy Sunday afternoon, just watching the water swirl gently around and around.
Algy hopes that you will all enjoy a happy, lazy Sunday afternoon :-))
Algy could hear the distinctive sound of a waterfall nearby, so he flew over to investigate. A vigorous burn was rushing down through the glen with considerable force, roaring over the rocks and stones with a din that filled his ears. Algy was fascinated by the sight of the water surging through the wee gorge it had carved out beneath the overhanging bushes and ferns, but it was hazardous environment for a fluffy bird. Fortunately, there was an old relic of rotting fence jutting out across the rocks beside the waterfall, so he perched on the safe side of the fence post, and held on very tightly, just in case…
Listen to the roar of the burn rushing over the rocks in the glen.
Listen to the roaring sound of the waterfall that filled Algy’s ears as he perched on an old fence post by the rushing burn in the glen.
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.]
Algy bade farewell to the enchanted wood and flew up high into the sky, in attempt to discover where he was and which way he should go. Steep, forbidding mountainsides loomed all around him, punctuated by deep, shadowy glens, some of them filled with shimmering lochs. Flying over such a terrain is by no means easy for a fluffy bird, especially if he doesn’t know where he is going, or when he will get there… So it wasn’t long before Algy decided to have a wee rest, in a glen carpeted with waving, golden-red grasses.
Although an Enchanted Forest is inevitably scary during the hours of darkness, nothing really bad could ever happen to a fluffy bird :-) So, while all kinds of eldritch beasties sneaked hither and yon around him through the night, Algy slept peacefully beneath the massive roots of the ancient fallen tree, and woke safe and refreshed the next morning. He was still perplexed as to how he could find his way home, but the woods on the other side of the rainbow looked beautiful in the daylight, numerous burns were gurgling and dancing merrily down the hillside, and the smaller birds were singing and twittering in the trees. For the moment, therefore, Algy just perched on a handy branch and enjoyed the enchanting woodland morning.
Algy was exceedingly tired, and felt that he could adventure no further that day. So he tucked himself under the massive roots of a fallen tree, high up the hillside in the thick of the ancient woodland. As he fell asleep he remembered a scary poem, but crossed his wings and hoped for the best:
The gnarled boughs hand darkling down,
And briers sweep my knees;
The moon is low, like a gold lamp,
Behind the twisted trees.
O dark and still are the wet fern
And trees where no birds nest;
What heed have I for night or day
Who ride a livelong quest?
There is no cockcrow in the dark,
No bleat from a far fold,
When the Forest Folk begin to stir
Under the starlight cold.
Rend your wild hair, you elfin things,
That peep from bush and tree;
I know what strangling arms you reach
Athwart the dusk to me.
Twist your fierce lips, you false fair things,
I know what dance you tread
To what drear tune ‘neath the cold moon
O’ nights wi’ the sheeted dead.
[Algy is quoting the poem The Enchanted Forest by the early 20th century English poet Cicely Fox Smith.]
The other necessity which Algy had to find was a supply of fresh water – but that is rarely a problem in the West Highlands, no matter which side of the rainbow you might happen to be on :-))
So Algy set off to explore the wooded hillside a wee bit further, and very soon he heard the sound that he was listening for – the distinctive gurgling and tumbling of a woodland burn cascading down the steep hillside…
From the other side of the rainbow, Algy wishes you all a very happy, rainbow-coloured weekend xoxo
This is the sound that Algy heard as he perched on the mossy log which had fallen across the wee burn in the woods.
Being suddenly transported to the other side of a rainbow is apt to leave a fluffy bird feeling rather peckish, so Algy turned his back on the loch and set off in search of food. The lower slopes of the hillside were covered in a rich woodland of Atlantic oak and birch trees, which usually provide a well-stocked larder for their feathered friends – especially in the autumn months. So it wasn’t long before Algy discovered an ideal lunchtime treat… Of course it was actually October, but as he munched the juicy berries, Algy inevitably thought:
I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.
This post is especially dedicated to Algy’s new food-loving friend whenislunch, for obvious reasons, and to Algy’s special friend seagirl49, for her wonderfully inspiring work in the world of colour :-))
[Algy is quoting the poem Blackberry Eating by the contemporary American poet Galway Kinnell.]
Algy moved closer to the water’s edge. There seemed to be an exceptionally high tide, and although the day was calm, the loch was in a state of constant agitation. In the stormy light, this world on the far side of the rainbow seemed to be coloured entirely in muted shades of silver and gold, and Algy felt rather conspicuous in his bright plumage. The scene was certainly pretty, but as he watched a mass of coppery-golden seaweed bobbing about on the silvery-pewter water, Algy wondered how he was going to find his way home…
(Special note to those Tumblr friends whose blogs Algy normally follows: Algy is very sorry, but while he remains on the other side of the rainbow, he may not be able to keep up with your posts… He sends you lots of fluffy rainbow-coloured hugs xoxo)
Algy looked all around at the place where the wind had dropped him, and was perplexed. The problem with a loch is that one is inclined to look very much like another, and there are plenty of them! Algy was only sure of two things: that he was not sitting beside his own quiet loch, and that he was still on the west coast of Scotland, because there was nowhere else in the whole wide world quite like it:
It requires great love of it deeply to read
The configuration of a land,
Gradually grow conscious of fine shadings,
Of great meanings in slight symbols,
Hear at last the great voice that speaks softly,
See the swell and fall upon the flank
Of a statue carved out in a whole country’s marble,
Be like Spring, like a hand in a window
Moving New and Old things carefully to and fro,
Moving a fraction of flower here,
Placing an inch of air there,
And without breaking anything.
So I have gathered unto myself
All the loose ends of Scotland,
And by naming them and accepting them,
Loving them and identifying myself with them,
Attempt to express the whole.
[Algy is quoting the poem Scotland by the 20th century Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid.]