Sunday, April 24, 2011
Savoring the Moment
Sometimes, when life is a little quiet, it is nice to sit at a favorite spot and remember …
I’m at the east facing bench on the Lagoon Campground trail, Oregon Coast. Very quiet today. An occasional water beetle disturbs the almost still marsh waters; a frog croaks deep in the woods; a bee hums by; one sound I don’t understand – could it be a mountain quail? Yes! Far off I hear the muffled drone of the surf rolling in from the Pacific Ocean.
Bright hazy day. Damp. Just warm enough to sit still for a few minutes and savor.
Several years ago we spent nine days photographing at this site. Dale could only walk short distances. We were delighted to have found a spot where a great blue heron came to hunt for salamanders and Dale could spend hours photographing him from this bench. There was a lot of waiting, but well rewarded when the heron came in. During the quiet times he still had wrentits, towhees, mallards, nutria and marsh wrens to keep him company.
We were fascinated because the heron was nabbing one salamander after another. From shore we could only find toxic, rough-skinned newts. Did he ever catch one of these? The photos would tell.
The great blue was hunting the oxbow that loops around Lagoon Campground. Much of the oxbow is filled with, choked with aquatic vegetation. Carefully, very carefully the great blue walked about on floating, matted water weeds. He often paused to stare intently into peeks of dark water. His footing was rather precarious. Slowly he’d sink, sometimes ending up belly deep.
Over the period of a couple of hours the great blue might catch 6 – 8 salamanders. Most were about six inches long – about newt size, but never a newt. He’d flick off any waterweeds that happened to come up with the salamander, the gulp it down as easily as a raw oyster. Once in a while he caught a much larger salamander, a Pacific Giant Salamander. These big monsters were a mouthful! He’d flip it and make sure it would go down head first, and then we watched the lump work its way down the heron’s long neck. Once the giant salamander was swallowed, the heron always took a drink of water and then ruffled his feathers, as if to say, “Yuck … Ugh!”
It is nice sitting here on the bench. The vegetation has grown up a lot in the passing years. Dale wouldn’t have very good visibility if he tried for herons here today. But, no matter. With two new hips Dale is walking again and has lots of options as to where to photograph.
Note: the drawings all come from my 1996 journal and were drawn during those nine days.