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Uplifted quartzite sandstones on the south coast of Steeple Jason Island, Falkland Islands

Winter fog blankets the valleys of the Jim Sage Mountains at City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho. Travelers on the California Trail described the rocks here in vivid detail as “a city of tall spires,” “steeple rocks” and “the silent city.” Today, this backcountry byway attracts rock climbers, campers, hikers and hunters. Enjoy inspirational scenery, exceptional opportunities for geologic study and interesting stories of the people who lived and traveled through this beautiful land. Photo by National Park Service.

On the fourth day the mist finally lifted, and gave way to a squally succession of huge black clouds and brief bright intervals, moving rapidly across the land from the west. There were frequent showers of rain mixed with icy hail, and in one such outburst Algy decided to take cover under a large fir tree. Perching comfortably on a convenient log, he looked out at the weather passing by. The forecasters were saying that another big Atlantic storm would blast the West Highlands in the middle of the week, and then it would get much colder.

As Algy sheltered under the tree, he thought of Robert Burns’ famous poem about the winter, and of all his friends in Europe and beyond who were experiencing unusually harsh winter weather at the moment.

Algy hopes that you will all be able to find shelter and keep warm in these severe conditions - and will take care of his little feathered friends too! He sends you all lots of extra fluffy hugs, just in case! xoxo

When biting Boreas, fell and doure,
Sharp shivers thro’ the leafless bow'r;
When Phoebus gies a short-liv’d glow'r,
        Far south the lift,
Dim-dark'ning thro’ the flaky show'r,
        Or whirling drift:

Ae night the storm the steeples rocked,
Poor Labour sweet in sleep was locked,
While burns, wi’ snawy wreeths upchoked,
        Wild-eddying swirl,
Or thro’ the mining outlet bocked,
        Down headlong hurl.

List'ning, the doors an’ winnocks rattle,
I thought me on the ourie cattle,
Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle
        O’ winter war,
And thro’ the drift, deep-lairing, sprattle,
        Beneath a scar.

Ilk happing bird, wee, helpless thing!
That, in the merry months o’ spring,
Delighted me to hear thee sing,
        What comes o’ thee?
Whare wilt thou cow'r thy chittering wing
        An’ close thy e'e?

[Algy is quoting some of the verses of the poem A Winter Night by the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns… who wrote in the Scots language :) ]