Sunday, October 4, 2009

Leisurely Sentries

They stood in the midst of the open river,

on this shallow and reedy bar in the sun,
the leisurely sentries, lazily pluming themselves,
as if the day were too long for them.
They gave a new character to the stream.
Thoreau’s Journal, August 14, 1859

It’s easy to take herons for granted during the summer – they seem to be everywhere along the river, and in quiet backwaters.
Now that they are beginning to leave for warmer waters, you miss those casual meetings.

Soon they will be gone for the winter.

Thinking back on those I have seen this summer -
Sometimes they remind you of a snake.

Other times, a giraffe.

Or perhaps, a yoga instructor from that evening-class.

When in flight, they have the voice of a pteradactyl.

And viewed straight-on, become an alien from another planet.

They keep to themselves, mostly. It's not much to ask.

It can't be too easy catching frogs on foot.

Or eating fish without hands.

And yet, they are supremely adapted to their environment.

You have not seen our weedy river,
you do not know the significance of its weedy bars,
until you have seen the blue heron wading and pluming itself on it.
I see that it was made for these shallows, and they for it.

Now the heron is gone from the weedy shoal, the scene appears incomplete.


  1. Sue, this post is exquisite! You have truly captured the essence of this majestic bird. And the quotes from Thoreau are perfect.