The Fox at Dawn


1.3.21 The Heron Returns
January 3, 2021, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day | Tags: , ,

Sitting at the dining room table, listening to the Sunday sermon, playing Solitaire, Mr. Darcy’s low growl draws my attention to the window. There he was- a Great Blue Heron standing on the edge of the little fish pond with at least one of my largest goldfish in its deadly beak, bright orange, the only color in the winter gray morning. I make sure I’m muted, race to the door and fling it open shouting and waving my arms. The heron doesn’t drop the fish- oh lord, are there two of them in his beak? Little troubled, the bird opens his massive wings and lazily takes to the sky.  He leaves his calling card- the floating white film of his excrement on the surface of the pond. The other fish are in clear sight at the bottom of the pond, unmoving and undisturbed by the sudden attack. The winter makes them stupid and slow. There they wait to be plucked out of the water and there is little I can do about it. I have tried many things. The herons keep coming and I keep shouting and waving my arms and sometimes I cry. Why do I care so much?

The heron will always eat fish. And I will always hate it.

When I finish teaching my Sunday school classes, I try again. I always do, even knowing what I know. I try again. I haul out the pinwheels, the sparkling string, the tomato cages. The cages- four of them- are turned upside down and placed in various spots around the pond, their leg prongs pointed to the sky. The pinwheels are pushed into the ground around the perimeter and the string is stretched taut from one to the other, crisscrossing the pond. Perhaps when there is wind, the whirling pinwheels will be enough to discourage the Vikings from landing. Perhaps the fish will seek refuge in the tomato cages, the heron unable to penetrate the geometry of wire angles. Perhaps the strings will entangle the intrepid pillagers unconcerned by the other defenses.

It looks ridiculous, of course. A sad little circus trying to look brave and hearty. It’s all I can do, so I do it.  The fish come under my protection, being here in my pond. I am the caretaker here and those winter fuddled fish, orange as traffic cones, are not fair game. There are creeks and a mighty river not a half mile away. There, it is natural that herons should hunt and feed, here, it is pure theft. Tiny murders are still murders after all.

Does anybody ask the fish? This just now occurs to me. I assume that they don’t wish to be skewered and swallowed.  Perhaps it is all for nothing and they care far less than I do. And just how many have I taken under my protection, looked after with care and tenderness, that didn’t want to be there? Never asked to be there? I know at least one. Perhaps you’re reading this now. Yes, you nod your head, there was at least one.


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