Ever been disrespected in your life? Well, who hasn’t. But if you’ve never been dissed by a Great Blue Heron, you’ve never really had the experience. Take today, for example, a picture perfect sunny blue day for a walkalong Netarts Bay. Now I have a good respectful relationship with the Great Blues along the bay. There are three to five that can be seen standing on the rocks along the road. The regulars hang out by the park road, Wilson Beach Ave., and down past the oyster hatchery.
Now heron are notoriously solitary and easily annoyed. If you get in their space, they don’t just fly off but fly off with a loud and curmudgeonly FRROOOOONK! that leaves you feeling like a complete fool. You know, like when you think you’re looking pretty cool and are feeling good as you’re being approached by someone who is extremely cool—only to have that individual point out that you’ve got a dryer sheet hanging out of the leg of your jeans.
Anyhow, I’ve learned to walk past the big birds, despite the longing to stand and admire their rapier yellow beaks and graceful blue-gray lines. Barely turning my head, I will simply offer a “Good afternoon, Your Feathership” without so much as a pause in my step. The heron eye follows me like the cold eye of truth that sees into all my insecurities, the gravest of which is the longing for approval.
Then there was today. I’d been wanting to see just how good a picture I could get with the zoom feature on my iPhone. So I paused, oh, a good thirty feet from the Wilson Beach heron, my favorite because I swear to you he shows up nearly every day in the same spot to watch the sunset across the bay. So anyway, I snapped the picture quickly and was gratified that the object of my adoration stayed put. But then…
I wondered…did I get the picture…my hand wavered…maybe another one just to be sure…I touched the phone…heard the click…and FROOOOOOOOOOONK! up rose His Grand Feathership. And off he flew, then circled back and flapped across the road right in front of me—FROOOOOOOOOOONK!—on his way to the top of a weathered old spruce where he looked down from his Great Blue Heron Height at me.
And if you think that was the final word on the matter, oh no. Despite offering no intrusion to the wetland heron or the oyster hatchery heron, they all took off when I passed.
I trudged home thinking…come on, now, was wanting to be sure I’d gotten a good picture really that bad?