Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fishing for Story

The Great Blue Herons who fish from our docks are a study in faith, patience, and persistence. Okay. Crankiness when you need to pass them on the dock, too, but that's another story. It's fun watching these huge birds fish. They stand stock still, eyeing the water. Ever so slowly, they bend their knees (backwards, I might add) and ease their faces closer to the surface of the water. You don't know who to root for - the poor fish about to be eaten or the hungry heron looking for supper. The bird waits. Waits. Then strikes. I don't know if the pressure of the audience enhances performance, but the birds I watch rarely miss.

I'm studying the local wildlife because I have the time on my hands. The stories that usually play nonstop in my head are quiet. Funny how panicky I get when I sit down at a blank page and hear nothing. Rather than get maudelin and self-absorbed over the creative ebb, I watch the herons. Sure. I could wrap this up all neatly with some observation about how the herons teach me to wait for precisely the right moment to strike, or how standing still is a big part of getting what they're after. All of which would be great if I wanted fish rather than another completed novel. Okay. I *am* joking about the fish thing. I'm not that dense. Most days.

Regardless, I love watching these distant relatives of dinosaurs hunting and flying and walking around on their spindly, backwards-bending legs. They're querelous birds when they're disturbed and fierce about protecting their nests. When they leave wet prints on the concrete dock, the spread of their toes is the size of my hand. I'm trying for a photo of that...so far, herons score; Marcella shoots digital camera and misses.


  1. Here there are egrets in the marshes and along the shore. If I don't see them on a particular day, I know I will see them again, long shadows against the dawn. I have no egrets.

  2. Woo hoo! Noel-Anne, that deserves its own tee shirt. Or poster. Something moody and faintly 80's-ish.

  3. The other lesson the herons teach is that there are always more fish.