Ascent into Morning


“ Ascent into Morning” speaks to the Great Blue Heron’s reputation for humility and steadiness, a trait missing in our world presently; the heron standing in sublime contrast to Icarus who, for his tragic hubris, flew into the sun on wings of wax.
Taken almost 13 years ago, this is the first occasion I’ve published this image. I thought in this time of grave sadness and anxiety others might benefit from the symbolism of the heron. Metaphorically, to me at least, the wings of the great bird lift us steadily, resolutely into the light.
I recall the cool fog of that August morning twilight, standing in the marsh, listening to the landscape awaken. Then came the croaking shriek of a Great Blue Heron and the world around me falling silent. This heron, this old soul here from antiquity, unfurling and primordial as he launched across the water into the new day echoed Longfellow’s evocative first lines from Evangeline, “This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and hemlocks … standing like Druids of eld with voices sad and prophetic … speaks, and in actions disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.”
It will be some time before I am able to process this image into language fully but I can say that the experience, alone in the marsh as the world awoke around me, had a profound bearing on my sense of time and place, connecting with the natural world if only for a moment and allowing me to be anywhere and everywhere. This great bird flies from one dimension to another, in its ancient form a vestige of the past flying into light. And so I take its transit from darkness into a rising sun to auger favorably for our future.