“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Part II: Day 31: In the Presence of Greatness

this photo is from Jennifer K. Karn's blog
This damp Wednesday morning, 5:50 AM.  The sky is blurry, a smudge of pale gray.  It rained yesterday and last night.  As I make my coffee I think about the things that bring me contentment in May: long walks with Zoe through the trillium and phlox; the colors emerging, especially the stark contrast between the pale green young leaves and black bark of the maple and oak and poplar in our back yard; and the elusive presence of the great blue heron.  Any day now, he's sure to be back making his rounds along the riverbank.

Am I hallucinating?  Just as I bring the mug to my lips, I see a great flapping of wings in the low brush in our yard along the river.

Some big bird out there is waking up.

And then I see him in flight.  They say a great blue heron has a wing span of six feet.  It's such a thrilling spectacle to watch.

But what moves me most and fills me with awe is the bird's capacity for stillness.  Many times I have brought Zoe to the back yard and she's seen the bird standing on a rock close enough for us to touch.  She used to bark at it, but now she just stares too.  One day last summer we formed a triad: the dog in her sphinx-like meditation pose, peering out at the river, the heron posing on its rock, and me standing in tree pose, trying to feel that bird's greatness and stillness in my bones.

This morning I want to take a picture of the great blue heron, but as soon as I get my camera and head out, he is gone, of course.  I go back in for Zoe, and say, "Find him."  I have no idea if she'll understand, but sure enough, she leads me down to the scrub and sniffs around.  We walk over to the rocks along the bank where he stood a few minutes ago, but there's no winged creature in sight.

And now, as Zoe meditates on the deck up in my studio while I write, I hear a little, "woof, woof."  I rush over, camera in hand, but there's just a yellow lab walking its person across the way.

At the beginning of the great blue heron's season here in the North Country, he is shy and discreet.  As time goes on, he is emboldened, perhaps because he is made so welcome.  There are too many fish to catch, dogs to stare down, and flat river rocks for practicing yoga on along the river bank.

Namaste, gentle reader.  I hope the nature in your yard brings you more wonder than mosquito bites.

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