Heron, New Day

Two weeks after my father’s death, with camera in hand, I picked my way through the moonless black of predawn along the north end of Schweitzer’s marsh. The early hour, made even less visible by a dense April fog, weighed on the land and spirit. The mist was heavy and I had only to blink my eyes to know it was there.

My first encounter with grief and I had chosen to come to the place that had illuminated “the way home” in other difficult times in my life. I really had no expectation for answers that morning, not even a sense of what I was searching for … only an indistinct hope the marsh might provide some direction, a means to cope, perhaps as it had lifted my spirits on occasion with a glimpse of wildlife or conferred the favor of the landscape when least expected.

Slowly, imperceptibly, light was revealing form. A heron appeared above the fog, perched in a pin oak, looking east, waiting for the new day.

I haven’t seen this image in fourteen years but it now makes sense. As I look at the heron I am reminded tonight of Henry David Thoreau’s concluding words in “Walden”, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn.”

Words to remember in these dark times.