May 14th, 2020

“What is it like to live in a painting?” a guest once enthused about the view from my kitchen sink.

It’s not a painting. It’s life, and being life, it’s equal parts death.

So I recognize the shape that is too fleet to be seen, the finality that is too grim to grasp. It’s the heron! One of the reapers that cull our fish on flights north, then south again, two seasons a year.

Up close, herons are exquisitely beautiful. An audience with a heron can freeze you in the shock of good fortune. Only these visitors don’t come for a swim, and the good fortune doesn’t extend to the fish. Even for a Buddhist, it’s difficult to take this sort of outcome sitting down.

These days the heron is observing a stay-at-home order. May is typically two months past the migration north, but his stony gray stillness is perched over the pond in the early morning and late afternoons. I suppose there’s no reason for him to go anywhere, no hurry, with food stocked, and all the time in the world. The rules and routines are broken. For all of us.

People are awed by herons. They call them majestic. True. But they come here for only one reason.

So too the hawk I saw swoop across the yard last week. I heard a frenzy of songbirds before he made his elegant approach. Then no songbirds.

It’s hard to appreciate a predator’s appetite, his relentless power and precision killing.

But this is how it is. This is how it is.

Photo by Caroline Cameron on Unsplash


  1. the sage awakes to light in the night of all creatures.
    That which the world calls day
    is the night of ignorance to the wise.
    (Bhagavad Gita)

    Peer deeply into the darkness, then, and you will see the light.
    Yet turn away from the brightness of what others call “day”,
    for they mistake the bright for the good.

    Neale Donald Walsh

    I read your post and then received this. Nature is a beautiful thing. We go against nature at our peril and yet it comes naturally to us people to do so.

    Comment by Sim — May 15, 2020 @ 1:12 am

  2. You have inspired me to be a predator! Sounds fine. Thanks.

    Comment by Bill — May 15, 2020 @ 4:57 am

  3. Good start, Bill!

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — May 15, 2020 @ 8:13 am

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