“When despair for the world grows in me,
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be —
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
“I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
We came out of the coolness of the house this evening as the clouds were gathering, sun setting, and temperatures dropping.
We first went to visit and photograph a friend’s garden, and then drove right past the road towards home heading for an evening drive along the Colonial Parkway.
Our friends’ forest garden, full of Mountain Laurel and lush with trees and ivy.
The water, marshes, wildflowers and great trees make this a soothing place.
Such a treasure of mostly undisturbed eco-system where the great birds find safe havens and abundant food for their young.
After the first mile we spotted a Great Blue Heron wading in the marsh near where fishermen park and wander down to the bank of the creek with their coolers and poles.
No one was fishing tonight, so we pulled in , and I hiked back to where I could get a clear view of the heron through the trees .
A peaceful and soothing evening, but you must know that the air was thick with Mayflies and heavy with the approaching rain.
Definitely not a place I wanted to linger, with flies landing on hand and camera as I searched for that angle with a clear view through the dense branches.
Flies still hovering, I slipped back into the cool safety of our car for a short ride to the parking lot
We had already spotted two more herons on the opposite bank, and a Bald Eagle watching from a pine.
Another hike down the path to the beach, but the breeze off the James River smelled fresh and kept the flies at a distance.
The beach was nearly deserted; the best time to find birds.
After yesterday’s crowded lots and full beaches, we enjoyed the silence and emptiness of the park this evening.
Fellow photographers leap-frogged with us from spot to spot along the way to Jamestown Beach.
My partner has a good eye for spotting wild life, and often mentions turtles and ground hogs, rabbits and lizards- only a few of which I see.
He spotted this next heron, and made a wide U-turn to head back to share it with me.
He simply said, “Have your camera ready.”
What a beautiful surprise when we pulled up, alone on the road, and close enough to take photos from the car’s open window!
We watched the clouds grow heavier and closer against the water. We could smell the coming rain.
The geese were gathering into flocks for the night, the solitary herons looking for one more fish before their sharp eyes could no longer penetrate the shallows were they waited.
Ospreys, deep in meditation on the abundant beauty of it all, sat still as sculptures on their nests.
This early summer evening offered its gift of peacefulness, wrapped in thick, fragrant May ethers.
The Mayflies gradually faded away; and as evening turned to shadows, we allowed ourselves another moment to contemplate the abundant beauty of it all.
“To stand at the edge of the sea,
to sense the ebb and flow of the tides,
to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh,
To watch the flight of shore birds
that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents
for untold thousands of years,
to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea,
is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal
as any Earthly life can be.”
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014