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December, 2000

Night Heron

Originally from Moments by Valerie, a collection of memories (1961-1983), written in 1986 and presented to Larry on their first anniversary.

Valerie, 1962, Joliet, Illinois.
Awakening while it was still dark, I thought it must be getting close to morning as I was no longer sleepy. I was camping with my mother in Florida during early January; and the days were disappointingly short, while the nights seemed to invade midday and linger into late morning. Since there is little to do once it was too dark to see, and we were always physically worn out from our kayaking and hiking, we often retired to our sleeping bags soon after dusk. After a week of too much sleep, I finally gave up trying and instead took walks in the dark. This night was cool, with a bright moon giving enough illumination by which to walk the beach. I planned to go to a fishing pier and there watch the sun rise. However, by the time I got there, I realized the moon was much too high and the sun wouldn't appear for hours. So I just sat on the pier, enjoying the cool breeze, gentle sound of small waves, and calm quiet of the deserted beach. It was low tide and I could make out a wide expanse of flat sand with tiny shell-dimples ending at a miniature surf. As I watched, a great blue heron appeared, slowly walking in the water. It paused often, a picture-perfect silhouette in the moonlight. I left it, walked back to the tent, and fell asleep, my midnight interlude like a dream.

Great blue heron, photo by Val.