The tussle for fishing rights began this morning at Dempsey dam and will decide, for two Great Blue Herons (Ardea Herodias), which one gets to feast on the fish that found a way to stay alive through the winter. It seems hardly fair that surviving the freezing water may only prepare them for a Heron meal. Earthly life is cruel in its cycle. Last year the reigning Heron killed a younger contender. These signs of new spring life are however encouraging for someone such as I who finds little pleasure in winter except for my view from the inside of my kitchen window of the feeders in our garden never empty of action through wind or blizzard.

The melting snow revealed to my dismay this morning the place where the hawk gorged himself on one of the Redwing blackbirds (Agelaius Phoeniceus) who tarried too long at our dam at the end of autumn. The only sign of beauty left to remember this beautiful specimen is its tiny red over-wing feathers still bedded in the melting snow and fluttering helplessly in the spring breeze. The best I could do to keep its memory was to nestle them between the pages of one of my favorite books. I wonder what its life-long partner will do. Will it return to our spot with another to continue to breezily announce both the departure of autumn and spring’s entrance?

New days often bring changes we do not expect. To face them with the same old attitudes somehow does not feel right. Change is unnerving. It confronts us with possibilities we may not feel we can face. It can point us to what we lack than to our achievements. Without change, we would commit only to repeating the past. Nature’s creatures are less certain of their continuity than the human is, and therefore, they cannot assume a right to anything. This ’uncertainty’ means that they expect that things will change, and to work daily toward it: to continue. Humans, by contrast, seem to fall more easily into the trap of fearing change and its benefits: a kind of intolerance to uncertainty that is not real. In this, we stray from what is fundamental to nature.

I return to the Herons. Their squabbles for fishing rights are themselves framed in the need to feed, and to ensure their future existence. There is a grace in this, as also for the need in the human to care for their children and families.

27th March 2013

Dedicated: to my brother Eric, for those special moments spent with him taking these pictures