Friday, August 3, 2012

Quadruple Sighting!

OK, this is not going to be a blog exclusively about herons, but I was gifted with the sight of four of them this morning!

First, I'm standing on the dock, amused by a small fish that is following a turtle through a mucky maze of algae. The turtle turns right, the fish follows. This cracks me up. I watch them for a few minutes, then quietly sit down, hoping not to send them scurrying into the depths. This is when I spot the first heron, flying low over the water. She may have been watching me, watching them.

Next, I spy heron #2. I can't see her feet; she's over there in the tangle of fallen trees, so she could be standing either in the water or on a tree trunk. She is a soft gray, just like the bleached wood in the early morning sun. She hangs out for a while then alights, meeting another heron (heron #1?) mid-flight. The two of them disappear around the bend.

I'm wondering how these turtles suspend themselves in the water the way they do --heads poking up, looking intently, shells hanging at maybe a 45 degree angle below the surface. Motionless. No paddling to keep them afloat. Must be something with their breathing. Pathetically, I know I'll be looking this up.

My gaze wanders along the shoreline. And there's another one. Standing in deep water. It almost looks like she's floating, like a goose or duck. But no, she's still as a statue, only accasionally turning her long beak this way or that. She doesn't seem to be hunting. Just surveying her territiory. Eventually she takes flight too, landing in someone's back yard, as far as I can tell, under a big weeping willow.

So that's my signal to leave. Further along my route is the Highland Street pond and from across the street, between branches, I see something out of the ordinary in the grasses sprouting up along its edges. I cross over, keeping behind a tree so as not to disturb. Another heron! This beauty is large, very tall, perhaps a male? From this vantage point, much closer than my spot at the dock, I can see the powerful yellow beak, the long neck, the individual slate-blue feathers of his folded wings.

I'm regarding him wondering if he's aware that I'm there. Ha! I lift one foot, and he's off. I hadn't even taken a step! Huge wingspan lifting him off onto the shadowy treetops.

Maybe it's the full moon, maybe it's the turn of the earth toward fall. But the herons are out, just like we are, soaking up these precious summer days. I don't know why I'm so fascinated by these creatures except that they're so unusual, and they woke me up to the rhythms of the earth and the value of aligning with them. Learning about these cycles, how the ancient cultures all over the world honored them, somehow brings order and meaning -- and aren't we all longing for that?

Joining the rhythm of the universe pulls one into the flow of something greater than our daily list of things to do. It offers lessons in how to be in the tumult of the troubling times we live in.

An hour with the herons somehow brings healing. Breathing deeply, (like those turtles?!) I bring newly-regained peace and perspective into my busy day.

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