Later on, as I drove up Steward Road and looked over to the creek north of my property, every single tree, every bush, and every plant that lined both sides of Willow Creek, providing lush habitat for the area wildlife, is gone. Just gone. Mammoth piles of huge trees were placed here and there in the fields to be burned. Nothing remained on either side of Willow Creek.
Then I knew.
I knew why the blue herons (who mean so much to me) were so agitated. Their home was suddenly destroyed. It was 20 degrees out yesterday. Last night it was 12 degrees. Where would the blue herons find nesting material in this snowy, ice cold terrain to build a new nest?
I was sick at heart.
Please, dear Reader, don't ever tell me that industrialized farmers have a deep feeling for their land, for their soils, their waterways, their creeks, their wildlife. It's always money that drives them to spray chemicals, poisoning the groundwater, the creeks, the air. It's always the thought of a little more money that drives them to cut down trees even if it means more erosion. Whoever was in the bull dozer probably didn't bat an eye at the confused and anxious blue herons, forlorn and lost.
My heart is so heavy.
My guess is my neighbor cut down every living tree and plant along the banks of Willow Creek because: 1) the government has taken away the payment they were giving him to help erosion control, and/or 2) he thinks he can make more money planting corn/soybeans there. It doesn't really make any difference what I think. I guess the farmer's thinking doesn't matter to t he blue herons, either. All they know is...their home is gone and it's freezing.
Blue herons mean a great deal to me. I would like to share a personal story with you so you understand why they mean so much to me. This is a true story which happened in July, 1996.
I had driven 2000 miles from Lake Oswego, Oregon, where I was living at the time, to the Land. I always visited the Land each year for as long as I could.
That July I set up my tent where the cottage is now.Every morning before I worked on the Land (yep! more pruning!) - I ate my breakfast sitting in a lawn chair overlooking the lake.
This particular morning I was deep in thought as I ate breakfast. I was going through a difficult time...and my escape to "The Land" was just what my soul needed.
As I stared off into space that beautiful, sunny summer morning, something caught my eye on the other side of the shore. It was a blue heron! I was happy to see it.
Then a strange thing happened.
The blue heron took off, flying across the lake - right at me!
I knew this wasn't right. I thought to myself, "He must not see me." So I moved in my chair, so he would be sure to see the movement andveer off.
He continued to fly right toward me.
Uncomfortable now - for him and me - I moved even more in my chair. I knew he would not fly toward a human being. Still he came.
By now he is getting so close, and I realize something very important. He knows I am here. Still he is flying to me.
Dear Reader, my heart is pounding. I've always been close to nature's creatures since I was a little girl on our farm in Iowa. But this - this is quite out of the ordinary. The Great Blue Heron flying at me both frightened and enlivened me.
He landed not ten feet away. He came down so gracefully, parallel to me - huge wings out - facing straight ahead, looking in the opposite direction I was facing. He was as tall as I was as I sat in the lawn chair! I was in awe.
To cover my fright, I am talking to him now...with my heart pounding so loudly. I'm talking to him, telling him softly how beautiful he is. I can barely hear my voice over my pounding heart.
He, in a dignified manner, tucks his wings in, still looking ahead.
Then (oh, dear Reader I can not even think of this part without being overwhelmed) ... he turned his head...
...and his eyes...(I'll never foget his eyes) - his eyes focus on me, looking deeply into my own eyes. He never looks at anything else...just into my eyes.
...Perhaps my voice stopped then - I'm not sure. All I know is my heart was still pounding loudly and my eyes were locked into his.
How long we held our gaze like this, I have no way of knowing. Perhaps half a minute, perhaps a minute or five minutes.
His eyes. I've never seen eyes like that. Never. They were so deep and serious and...and compassionate.There was a depth to them...ah, it is so hard to explain.
I've never felt like this. Never.
Motionless, we looked at each other for a long time.
Then, in the same stately manner, he slowly and calmly turned his head away from me, looking forward. A few seconds later, he unfolded his wings - they were so large they practically touched me!
Effortlessly, he lifted off the ground, flew a complete circle of the lake and flew out of sight.
Dear, dear Reader. I sat there on that hot July morning- so still - for a long time. I truly did not know what his
appearance meant. I still don't.
All I know is...Jack passed away within months, and my life changed forever.
All I know is...The Land remains the same, even surrounded by gigantic wind turbines, even with a newly built "private" airstrip which seems quite commercial - even with anal neighbors from Wheaton who set up and use a portable, open toilet right next to my fence line --
- the Land remains the same. Giving comfort, solace, steadfastness, joy. It is always here.
All I know is ...A Native American friend in Boulder, Colorado, upon hearing the Blue Heron story, explained that most Native Americans would give anything to have something like this happen to them.
All I know is...the Blue Heron was flying across the lake to see ... me. He knew I was there. He was coming to see me. I'm not sure why. I do know I love the Land. Always have. Always will. The Great Blue Heron knew this.
"A Calling Crane hidden in the shade.
Its offspring respond in harmony.
'I have a winged wine vessel.
Come to me and I will simply pour it out."
To see two blue herons flying above their decimated home yesterday breaks my heart.
Good night, dear Reader. Good night.