Monday, November 26, 2012

Go Placidly Amid the Noise and Haste

I set out for a walk but the blustery gusts give me pause.  Brrrr....  Since I'm trying to shake a lingering cold, I decide to abbreviate my route.

At the Highland Street pond, a new owner has shorn an overgrowth of shrubbery on the property, exposing the house in a naked sort of way.  A tumbledown stone wall is being precisely rebuilt.  But they also stripped the pond of surrounding shrubs and trees, so now the herons only have a few clumps of tall grass to hide in.

The pond narrows to a waterfall which flows under the street and out the other side.  The stream meanders through wooded backyards, swift or sluggish depending on the rains.  As I approach, I see a heron standing vigil where the underground culvert opens into a small pool.

With the leaves fallen, it's easy to spy her in time to pause.  She is the exact blue gray as her tangled bramble backdrop.  She blends in like a piece of driftwood caught among clotted leaves dammed up by slender fallen birches.  I approach quietly.  Although she doesn't appear to notice me, I know she knows I'm there.

She is standing in profile, all scrunched up.  I take a silent step closer.  She is putting on a show of utter disinterest, but I know the moment I get too close, she'll fly away.  I can see every individual feather of her  slate-colored wing.  The precise, fan-like pattern looks like an example of sacred geometry.

One more cautious step.  I wonder, where is her neck?  Where does her long, slender neck go when she hunches up like that? She looks braced against the cold too.  

With one more step, I'm as close as I can get without getting wet.  Just then, she stretches out her neck, drawing herself up to her full height.  I see that her neck was folded back so as to rest on her "shoulders." Before she looked guarded, now she looks regal.

I surmise that  elongating is a prelude to flight.  But she simply strides away, one long leg in front of the other, right down the middle of the stream, leaving a rippling V-shaped wake behind her.

What kind of a wake do we leave?  Is it chaotic and breathless? Or is it placid, attentive, aware, like the heron? Unperturbed!  She is utterly unperturbed by me.  I respect her space; I ask permission before coming closer and she gifts me with a simple lesson that brings peace.  Through the lens of my heart, I see her as an embodiment of Mother Nature, the Spirit of the Earth, who bestows grace when we open to the gift of what is.

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