The marsh, the shore, the tide at high and low, and all the mysterious wonder of these long-legged backwater waders…there they are, tall, blue-gray, knees bending backwards, the gait so slow, so careful, proceeding with such precision.
The Heron stares long, peering into the water’s edge, waiting for a flick or flash of silver, then tilts, spears, vanishes within the marsh grass. Lunch swallowed whole in the blink of an eye.
Where do they sleep at night, in a tree, or in the marsh? What sort of nesting do they find to nestle all those feathers and great blue wings into as the moon rises, reflecting in the pools as the night tide returns?
We have a birder’s paradise out beyond the granite dock at our family summer cottage. We have gulls by the dozen, and a mockingbird nest near the roofline. Crows, sandpipers, truthfully, the names run out quickly because I’m not a birder. We do know herons, white herons, tall and short, we have a fair number. Blue herons, we have some. The herons get special mention for their stately majesty.
We look out from the granite dock across a ten-acre saltwater marsh. Nancy and I will sit quietly with breakfast and newspaper, until one of us says, “Look!” and a heron 30 feet away will walk down the tidal creek studying the shallows, oblivious to our presence. There’s something mysterious in the ancient gait of a heron, something that is an echo from the primordial mists of time. A silent winged predator about to spear a fish.
Our family cottage is built in the sand dunes. Early morning is the best time of day. In recent years, our beach has been cordoned off, dogs can run on the other half of the beach before 9AM. Our half of the beach is a bird sanctuary, all day, all summer long.
Early morning, before breakfast, a walk down by the river and its amazing nature preserve is a great way to start a day. We have nesting least terns and piping plovers. We have an assortment of gulls in all sizes. We have small and large white herons and lots of their long-legged cousins wading in the river and the occasional blue heron.
Mornings sitting on the riverbank with the tide going out, listening to the sound of waves faint and far away, listening to the sound of the gulls’ staccato call is heaven. The river flows by five white herons and two blue herons.
I wonder what the herons are thinking, knee-deep in the soft sand watching the water flow, waiting for a silver flash. I think about the least terns flitting, flying, looking left, looking right. They pause in mid-air, hover, dive, hover, dive, breakfast hunting is good.
I sit on the riverbank watching, simply watching which birds come, who goes, listening to the water flowing by, watching the light on the water, watching the swirls in the river. This is as close to a perfect moment of summer as any of us may ever get. I know because of how I feel.
This morning I looked out the second story window; there were eight brown-gray birds and one cardinal hopping about the yard and driveway all going in different directions. The red bird stopped me. I watched it for two minutes until he flew away. The motions, the hopping were the same among all the birds, but the red color, because it is so unusual riveted me to this position of watching. The presence of a Heron does the same. Its walk, its gate, its long legs, its wing span, I’ve logged dozens of hours watching Herons. I almost always watch until they take to the air. Because of their wing span, they almost seem to be moving in slow motion. Their very being and presence on the marsh and riverbanks is royalty among the birds gracing our beach and ocean.
Moonstone: Pure magic. The blue light on its surface appears to float just above the gem. Moonstone’s blue light moves contrary to the observer. As you move to the left, the moon glow slides to the right.
As the eye looks, the moon glow moves slowly, mysteriously, kind of like the glow of the moon on a cool, misty fall night.
The ancients believed moonstone was formed by moonbeams striking ocean waves, falling to the bottom of the sea, and solidifying into gems beneath the waves. Our gemology lessons say moonstones from moonbeams is ridiculous, and yet, we know of two saltwater beaches in Maine where moonstones wash up on shore.
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