Sunday, February 28, 2010
One Blue Heron
The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
And he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing...
Driving home last Wednesday, I quietly prayed that the storm front headed our direction would suddenly divert its terror in some other direction. This, however, was not what my students wanted; they preferred the idea of sleeping late and lounging in pajama pants. I, on the other hand, shot a bitter eye and furrowed brow toward the grey sky as I headed on my Bear Swamp journey.
Along Sauerkraut Lane I drove. Past the massive homes. Past the stone farmhouses. Past the summer kitchens and the fallen fields of sheered corn and soybeans. As I headed into the dip towards the swollen Swabia Creek, I suddenly caught glimpse of a massive creature soaring not 30 feet above me.
A graceful blue heron.
I slowed the car on the winding road and watched as he flew westerly with me, magnificent wings spanning broadly, beak straight ahead. Slow and methodical, angular to the wind and fluid with motion. He stayed on my course for a half-mile before turning south into the sloping meadow. I pulled over to watch him glide away.
When the so-called snurricane finally descended the next day, I perched my bike and began to pedal a 30-mile ride inside the confines of our library. Throughout the drill, my gaze alternated between my focused image in the mirror and at the snow smacking against the window. And along the way, the thought of the blue heron kept recurring in my mind. He was out there, somewhere, spending his hours the way nature has intended—surrounded by the beauty of the hills, the sound of the breeze, the cold touch of the frozen flakes.
Instead, I remain trapped on a wheel of repetitive spinning and unable to escape. The rhythmic cadence of my legs stayed with the music as I eyed the arch of my back, noticing the definition of my lats, delts, traps. Trapped—like the caged bird, unable to name the sky as my own.
When our wings are clipped and our feet are tied, we cannot live. No one can—which is why we must always appreciate the splendor of life’s gifts and seize the opportunities placed before us.
The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
Until this winter passes, I shall quietly pedal in my cage, waiting for the day that I can finally dip my wings into the rays of the sun, bask in its glory, run to my trail and embrace a hemlock, cross a covered bridge and throw my hands toward the sky after I pass through its simplistic beauty.
Until I can again feel like the broad-back blue heron, searching for a destination of contentment.