Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How "Big Blue" Can Make You Less Blue

Life becomes like a treadmill set to the highest speed this time of year, and not every experience is conducive to holiday calm and good cheer.

Yes, there are many blessings and heart-warming activities. But at times it is hard to avoid a bit of the blues.

Maybe you remember a Thanksgiving or Christmas past and feel that the current experiences fall short. Perhaps you have lost a beloved member of the family or a close friend. Or someone special is sick. It is hard to avoid at least a touch of the blues in a season with everything is supposed to be perfect.

One of the great things about a daily walk is that it can snap you out of a funk in an instant. Today it happened when Superdawg and I spotted just one solitary bird perched on a stump in the middle of a pond. Oh but it wasn't just any bird; it was a Great Blue Heron.

This magnificent bird no doubt was engaged in what my "South Carolina Birds" book calls its stealthy hunting strategy. Typically, they spot a juicy fish or frog in the water, snare it with their bill, and then toss it in the air and gulp it down. Quite a sight! They are found all over the Palmetto State, but are less common inland during the winter. Here, near the coast, they are year-round residents. We are blessed! They are fascinating to watch as they hunt, and spectacular in flight.

I will never forget the first time I encountered a Great Blue up close and personal. It was when we were living in Richmond, Virginia, where I regularly ran with my collie/shepherd Bandit a mile to a heavily wooded park, then a mile around the park's trails, and finally the mile back home. When we rounded a bend in the backwoods, we nearly ran into this large bird that apparently was scoping out the stream just below the trail. All excited, I wrote an op-ed article for my newspaper about possibly sighting a rare Sandhill Crane in suburbia. A much more Nature-savvy friend gently let me know that it was much, much more likely that I had met a Great Blue Heron, a bird that is fairly common along the James River basin.

Anyway, being able to observe today's Great Blue in a much less hectic setting provided a big boost to the spirits. Sadie the Superdawg fell ill during the Thanksgiving weekend before bouncing back nicely, so it was a a joy to be walking her again, and experiencing wonders of Nature together. The holidays will be happy if we can keep on the move every day, alert to our surroundings.

                                                  © Robert G. Holland  2013

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