In the estuary 100 yards from our deck, 18+ Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and Wood Storks have gathered in mid-day prayer at low tide.
They’re facing the same direction like worshipers in a mosque, or a church, or a choir facing a Maestro before the downbeat that opens the symphony. They stand perfectly still. Their heads are raised, looking up, focused on the sun as it moves the day from sunrise to mid-day to sundown to the night that will be broken again, as always, with daybreak.
The estuary is part of a tidal river that leaves the wide bay beyond our porch shallow and nearly empty at low tide. A feast of mud, oysters, clams, and small fish enough to satisfy them all. In the morning they turn their prayer mats to the East and give thanks for the new day. From noon to three, they look up, slowly turning their mats from East to South to West, unaware of the smell of smoke billowing up into the VRBO renters’ temporary shelter from the owners below, the cheap plastic chair that broke under me on the balcony, or the sceptic tank that overflowed onto the driveway after five inches of rain the other day.
Today I want to be an Egret or a Great Blue Heron. We came here to sit in the sun like the birds, to be more natural at thanksgiving, freer from the plastic, the smoke, the greed, the cold. I’ve decided to be a Great Blue Heron, an Egret, or maybe one of the forgiving, cooing mourning doves perched on the telephone wire between our place and the estuary bay.
Life is good! Life is for the birds!
- Gordon C. Stewart, Snowbird, Tampa, FL, January 20, 2016.