In the quiet of the morning, before the early summer sun rose too high in the sky, shadows obscured the heron’s silhouette. Glancing across the marsh, where water plants dotted the surface like a tiny archipelago, I caught a glimpse of it, immobile as statuary.
That sight put a stop to the perpetual motion of my morning jog, and so I watched the heron as it watched the water. Observer observed. Neither flinch nor flap marred the tranquility, though I suspect this description was both misnomer and misinterpretation. Intensity threaded that peacefulness as the heron stared downward with unblinking focus. Oh, how I could relate.
Herons have always attracted me with their broad wingspans and long curving necks. Seeing one makes me happy—the beneficence of a good omen, and I’m not alone. Herons are symbols of determination and perseverance, qualities easily intuited when watching them, waiting motionless for prey to come within striking distance.
On this particular morning, the heron perched on a slim log forming a half bridge across the marsh. I wondered how long it would stand there. I know that if disturbed, a heron will relocate—I’ve witnessed that enough times (and have done more than my share of inadvertent disturbing). This heron, though, was distant enough away to ignore me. It just stood there—far longer than I cared to plant myself on the sidewalk. And there was my answer: the heron was willing to wait for as long as it took.
The heron’s resolve has inspired me over the years because that quality never came naturally to me. I’ve had to develop tenacity, honing patience when I would have preferred speed. Yet, like the heron, I didn’t have any choice. All my thrashing and trying to make things happen on my own only took me so far. There came a point when I had to surrender to the wait, to see what the current brought. And it delivered, at last.
About a day after I took this heron picture, I received the news. My novel that has been “in progress” for years (with much revising and rewriting) was enthusiastically accepted by a publisher. Not only that, but it’s a three-book deal—my first novel launching what will become a mystery series.
Now, I face another reality. While book one is completed, book two is due in about ten months. As I shift from waiting to writing, it’s time for productivity. My heron, I’m afraid, is not enough.
Another day, another jog—this time high up in the pine-covered hills. The mid-morning sun burned in a cloudless sky, slowing my pace to a walk. As I crested a rise along the trail, something darted across my field of vision. Its C-shaped body was about the size of my index finger, making me wonder if perhaps I had seen a large bee. Then, hovering around a clump of flowering shrubs, a hummingbird hung weightlessly in the air.
It flitted from blossom to blossom with speed and dexterity—the personification of positive energy and joy. Here it my second talisman, not replacing the first but complementing it. As I move along on my path, I will be the hummingbird who gathers from far and wide and the heron who waits for what will approach.