With the Grace of a Heron

Since I have started doing my morning walks along “Coffee River” (the Roanoke River – given the nickname by the kids because it is often dark and muddy and the colour of coffee) I have become frenemies with both Henry and Heidi Heron. I have separate frenemy relationships with them – I’m not sure of their relationship with each other, but I assume it’s much like the one they have with me. One, that is, of tolerance, and reluctant acceptance.

I have become aware of the fact that I am the only person who seems to take notice of Heidi and Henry. In fact, most people don’t seem to take notice of much at all on the path. To be fair, the couple of times I have brought my husband with me, the experience is completely different – more talking and less taking in of the environment. While the conversation is important, this morning quiet time with nature has quickly become a sacred time to me.

Back to the herons.

Every once in a while I would not see Henry – I rarely see Heidi, but Henry is usually in one of two spots doing his morning thing. It wasn’t until I didn’t see him that I realized how I really had started looking for them every morning – more than anything else on the walk. In fact, the walks had become me wondering where and when I would see one of the herons.

When I do find one of them, I usually stop and stare at them for a while. They’re such big, cool and kinda funky birds I found myself really drawn to them. Here’s one lucky day when Henry let me get really close to him:


As happens every time, if they figure I’ve been standing there for too long they scream and swear at me and then fly away:


Sometimes he flies away and other times he flies to a treetop and really tells me off (you might even say he sits up there and “gives me the bird”!!!)


I started to wonder – why were these herons appearing in my life, and what was it about them that was making me stop and take notice? There certainly is something that draws them to me, and me to them.

I did a little research about the spiritual meaning of the heron. Here’s a little of what I learned:

The heron is equally comfortable in the water, on the land and in the air. The comfort in these different elements means that it makes transitions easily. Something that I certainly could use right now as a reminder that transitions don’t always have to be difficult and scary, but sometimes are just a part of life. Not only are they able to make these transitions with ease, but they remain stable in each of their environments.

They are also very focused but quiet hunters. They will stand completely still staring at the water for hours until the right fish comes by and then *snap* the fish has become dinner – just like that. I can learn a lot about staying quiet and completely focused on what I want, refusing to get distracted by anything besides that which immediately threatens my livelihood. Sometimes it would seem for Henry that thing is me threatening him. He does not like it when I stop and stare.

Sometimes in the mornings I also see the “human heron”. I love that not only is he there with his fishing rod, but he also has a camera


He’s almost impossible to see- but he’s on the left side at the edge of where the sun is shining. He’s all hiding and quiet like – just like Henry and Heidi


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