Quirky Artist Stories Nbr 1 – Nancy Drew and the Case of the Purloined Heron

The southwest staircase wall was empty – a blank white space stared at me starkly from the landing between floors.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)  Great blue heron amongst water lilies in the cove.

Great blue heron amongst water lilies in the cove.

The framed great blue heron was gone!

Shades of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist!

Someone had been in the house, but who?

Had a burglar made off with the heron?

Was anything else missing?

Was he still in the house?

Was it safe for me to be there alone?

My sensitive radar for danger didn’t kick in this one time – I didn’t “sense” anyone lurking about in the broad daylight. The 19th century wood floors gave no telltale creaks of footfalls, and, most significantly, the dog snored loudly on his cushion.

I roused the dog and gingerly we checked all the rooms, upstairs and downstairs – looking behind doors, peering into closets and even behind the shower curtain.

Whomever it was, was gone.

A relief.

And a mystery: nothing else seemed to have been disturbed, nothing else missing. Just that one great blue heron photo.

It is a good photograph – one of my favorite painterly photos, one I’m proud of, and definitely “art.”

But definitely not great art.

Yet it was missing,

Had someone thought it valuable enough to steal?

How much self-flattery would it take for me to believe that someone entered my home and stole a photograph, yet left behind anything else of value? A lot. I would really have to be flattering myself a lot to believe that.

And yet the great blue heron was missing, and remained missing.


Until I opened the built-in pantry cupboard two days later, and found the missing photograph. The glass had been partly shattered and the frame dinged a bit, but the print, itself, was undamaged.

A relief.

And another mystery: who hid the heron photograph in my pantry, and why?

The mystery became amusing, and I had a bit of fun imagining scenarios once I realized that the heron hadn’t been purloined.

My landlord’s son solved the mystery a few days later: he had accidentally bumped into the framed print on the staircase wall while taking something up to the attic. The painting fell and he hid it in the pantry. His plan was to get a new pane of glass and replace the photo before I noticed it missing. What a sweet, thoughtful young man.

And what fun entertaining the thought – if only for the fleetingest of moments – that someone might have liked this photo enough to take it for themselves.


Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art. While the great blue heron photograph shown here is a work of art, click here to learn about a new virtual tour of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and see works of art in an entirely different league.

Thanks to Paula for her wonderful Thursday’s Special Non-Challenge.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for his Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.


A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Posted on May 22, 2014, in ardea herodias, Art, Great Blue Heron, Humor, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Nature Photography, Photography, postaday, Thursday's Special, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. great story:-) I love a good mystery:-) You take me back to Nancy Drew mysteries( long sigh) simple life to just read several of those as a kid:-)what an easy life-lol

    • Thanks, Robbie! I miss the old Nancy Drew mysteries, too. We read those in innocent times. Every once in a while I come across one at a yard sale. Next time, I think I’ll bring one home and reread for a walk down memory lane.

  2. How very sweet, but I also remember that sort of magical thinking that you wouldn’t notice and he’d “get away with it”… 😀 Then again I might be tempted to steal one of your great blue heron photos… best you keep your location secret! 🙄

    • Thanks, Gunta! You’re right about the “magical thinking.” He is a teenaged boy, and teenagers still have active magical thinking genes. 🙂 In terms of stealing one of my herons, you had your chance when we shared Utah back then (unbeknownst to us both at the time)!

  3. You have made me laugh Babsje. I do think your photos are interesting enough to be stolen 🙂 What a fun story 😀

  4. Nice picture and nice story – we have had a few pictures fall off the wall when “sticky” hooks proved to not be that sticky! Back to nails for me!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    • Glad you like this post, thanks for your kind comment Stewart. And you’re right about those adhesive hooks. How does the expression go, once bitten twice shy? Been there!

  5. A funny and entertaining story but your landlord’s son has access to your pantry?

    • Glad you found the story entertaining, thanks for your kind words. About my landlord’s son’s acccess to the pantry. He is definitely trustworthy. The house is one of those old big New England houses closer to 200 years old than to 100, it has seen better days. The big homes of that era had quarters on the third floor by the attic for servants, with back staircases leading up (as opposed to the main stairways used by the famiies). The pantry access is off that back stairway (since the kitchen maid would be the one accessing the pantry).

  6. Babsje, your story reminds me of an exquisite W.S. Merwin poem “The Heron Time” in his new book The Moon Before Morning. He says of the heron “then his wings opened/and without moving them he was gone.”

    • Many thanks for sharing this exquisite Merwin passage. It is a remarkable characterization of a heron taking flight. I have had that same sense of a heron soundlessly, effortlessly taking off by simply leaning forward from the shore, wings outstretched but not moving, catching the ambient wind and gone before I realized what had happened. W.S. Merwin’s poetry is a treasure. I’m glad you posted this comment here.

  1. Pingback: Thursday’s Special: Graffiti | Lost in Translation

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