(For context, read the post before this one first.)
So I need to start carrying a camera. No. I don’t. If the heron story has begun to seem unreasonable, too impossible, it is so only to non-believers.
I am writing this all wrong.
What I want to do is celebrate, but I don’t know how. I don’t know who to share this with, who would appreciate it most. It is my story, and perhaps inexplicable to everyone except me and my sisters.
Yesterday morning, I wrote about Leah’s secret. It reminded me of my mother’s death, and so I wrote another entry, about my Mum dying, and my car. As I was saving it, I wondered if I would see the heron that day. I haven’t seen it in a while. I looked out my window, at the green light trapped between the trees and my slider doors, at the petunias and ivy geraniums spilling over the edges of the planters. The bronze heron that sits in my garden looked back at me unblinkingly. I wished I could see a real one fly by. The last time I felt this way, a kind of darkness pushing into me, memories fluttering in the margins of my thoughts, the heron stood by the freeway exit, not five feet away as I passed in my car.
Later, I had a typical adolescent fight with my strong-willed daughter, and I felt the usual gloom such incidents trigger in me. These are the kinds of days the heron has come in the past to comfort me, I thought. But I didn’t expect it. I couldn’t expect it. It does not come as a sign, on command. It comes only when I don’t expect it, and yet in retrospect its presence always makes absolute sense.
Later, this afternoon, I went for a walk in the canyon. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent the $4 in gas money to drive to there, but I was in the kind of mood that only the canyon seems able to soothe. I was walking along, feeling grumpy and lonely and wondering when the challenge of raising a teenager alone will finally diminish, at what point I will finally be able to breathe deep and say, “It’s over now.” And I rounded a corner, and there on the bridge was the heron, maybe 20 yards away. We stood, watching each other, for five minutes I think, and the dogs, who saw it too, never went after it. They love chasing birds. Any other large mobile creature they would have jetted after. But they stood in the shade, calm, watching the heron as I watched it.
Finally it turned and stepped down off the edge of the converted railway bridge and onto the center, and then it walked across, with long, delicate strides, and stepped up on the other side. It turned to give me one last look, and then lifted off into the dappled air and around the corner.
I have seen a heron in the canyon twice in all the days I’ve walked it. Once was the first day I took Sadie to the canyon after her illness, in fulfillment of a promise I’d made while she was in the hospital. The second time was yesterday.