It's been a foggy Sunday here on the Eastern Shore, one of those days when everything loses its hard edges. I needed to lose a few of those hard edges myself, so I grabbed my camera and drove to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which is within an hour from my house. During the colder months, one does not encounter many people here—only the occasional birdwatcher or photographer—but the waterfowl are abundant. This is a wintering area for Canada geese, snow geese (both seen in photo above), herons, swans, and ducks of every stripe and color. It is also a year-round refuge for those homo sapiens who believe, in Wordsworth's immortal words, that "the world is too much with us."
It's easy to become mesmerized by the vast waterscapes of the refuge and the large flocks of waterfowl that congregate here, especially just before sunrise and again at sunset. Indeed, I have often been here before sunrise, and there is nothing quite as reassuring as seeing thousands of birds celebrate the morning sun with both dance and song.
Today, however, the sun remained hidden behind a veil of fog . . .
. . . and the most interesting part of the trip was the time I spent with a single great blue heron, which graciously invited me to be his companion as he searched for small fish and crustaceans among the reeds and shallow waters.
There was no resistance here, neither on his part nor mine. There was simply a tacit understanding that we are both searching, and, as Wendell Berry reminds us, that "what we need is here."
What We Need Is Here
by Wendell Berry
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for a new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.