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The Heron

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The Heron

The other day, I was rushing home and already thinking about evening tasks. I glanced at the field near noisy and traffic-snarled Sand Hill Road, at the edge of the Stanford Campus and saw two posts a short distance from the bike path - one a surveying stake with a bright orange flag tied to the top and the other grey and rather thicker. I was so intent on getting home that I had almost hurtled past the fence at the edge of the field before the grey post stretched its neck. I stopped just short of the fence and looked back. The yellow eye of a great blue heron caught me in its gaze.
     This meeting was not my first encounter with the heron; it often stands as a sentinel near the bike path or even the busy road, always watching me as I pedal past while it hunts for gophers or perhaps ground squirrels. As I stood, holding my breath, the heron slowly turned its head to look at me without moving, its great sharp beak slicing the air. Small feathers on its long neck and breast fluttered in the slight breeze. We stared at each other for a long time before I moved on, as I had with the deer.
     Perhaps it is the same heron that cried out hoarsely as it slowly flew over my house at dawn one morning last week. I don't know if the great blue heron is anyone else's good- luck symbol, but I always feel blessed by the heron.

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Last modified, Jan. 22, 2001