April 20, 2004

I went for a long walk late Sunday afternoon along the sidewalk that follows the contour of the reservoir. In places, the path is right next to the rocky shoreline, and in others the terrain between the path and the water’s edge is thinly forested with old growth pines and cherry, apple, and dogwood, and oak and maples, all blanketed by tall ferns and ground foliage. At this time of year, the ground plants are just beginning to sprout and the leaves on the bushes and shorter trees have not yet started, so there is a clear view through the woods to the water.

Many creatures live there, and every walk I take seems to reveal more of them. Last night, it was a large cottontail rabbit. Saturday night, a lone goose that had gotten stranded on the wrong side of the path and needed some encouragement to dip beneath the guardrail to safety.

Sunday, as I was walking, something made me stop suddenly and drew my attention to the right, into the woods and trees. From where I was at that moment about fifteen feet of thin, tall trees and underbrush sloped gently downward to the shoreline, and there, not ten feet away, stood a great blue heron.

They are usually very shy and erupt into flight at the first sensing of an approaching human, but for some reason this heron remained stock still. We stood there, staring eye-to-eye for a long, long time, though it could not have been more than twenty seconds. His eyes, doe eyes almost, soft eyes, like those of a deer. His long break, the orange-yellow of Aztec gold. His cap feathers, pure white. It felt as though I was looking at a being of kindness and intelligence, and an equal.

The silence between us was absolute.

We stood there, eyes-locked, watching each other, absorbing in full stillness, and then he leaned forward and lifted skyward in absolute silence, not an audible rustle of feather in the unfurling of exquisite wings – just soundless, effortless flight.

Suddenly, I wished I had brought a camera, and then just as quickly, I dismissed that wish – had the camera been there, I would have missed that experience. Instead of sharing stillness with the heron, I would have been absorbed in things like aiming and focusing and f-stops and bracketing and all of the composition things we do; by then the heron would have flown away, alarmed by my fidgeting with the gadgetry, and I would have missed the moment.

So, what does this story have to do with these photos? I used to do a lot of photographing in the mountains near Santa Cruz, with the vistas of mist-shrouded hilltop after hilltop marching to the Pacific, and along the Pacific Coast at sunset – hundreds of hours seeking to capture the perfect moment, until one day I realized I was missing the moment IN the moment by working so hard to preserve that moment for future viewing.  Technology had gotten in the way of experiencing the moment in the now.

What does this story have to do with these photos? It’s a lesson in our choice to be present in the moment, as I was with the heron that afternoon, instead of focusing on the technology of recreating that moment for the future. It’s a lesson in mindfulness.

And the herons? They’re a study of Patience and Grace.
April 20, 2004


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.™

© 2004-2013 Babsje. (Http://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

  1. Hi Babsje, Great Blue Herons are among my list of favorite birds. Your photographs are really wonderful. So glad I am reading your fine blog. Have a very nice day tomorrow!

  2. oureverydayadventures365

    Thanks for stopping by our blog.

  3. Hello, Babsje! What a great catch (literally and figuratively). I’ll be looking at some more as soon as I finish typing here. Thanks, too, for visiting and liking my site; I’m so happy you stopped by! More later, ok?

    • Hi Laurie, you’re welcome for my visit to your site, and thanks for taking the time to visit here, too, and for your kind comment. I’m glad you like the herons. Best, Babsje

  4. Coming back for another round, Babsje! As a great bird/birds of prey lover, I want to thank you for liking my posts, “Barred Owl in the Bog” , parts 1 and 2. It’s way to much fun doing this, isn’t it?

    • I agree, way too much fun! Your owl photos are wonderful. I’ve never seen a live owl in the wilds, and so seeing vicariously through your post was a treat.

  5. So you decided to join the small clan of Uncle Spike followers Babsje…. That makes me a happy blogger now – I really appreciate you making that special mouse click.

    Hope you like my upcoming posts and if you get bored one day, maybe you’ll enjoy trawling through some of my older stuff too.

    If you have any likes, dislikes or suggestions about my blog, just let me know, either through ‘comments’ or via email. Always welcome reader input 🙂

    Have a great old day…


  6. Congratulations, Babsje!

    I have nominated your blog for the Blog Of The Year 2013 Award.

    More about this nomination is at


  7. Thank you so much the Blogger of the Year award, I am very honored. If it’s ok, I’ll post about it later on during the week.


  8. Congratulations, dear Babsje!

    I have nominated your blog for the Semper Fidelis Award.

    More about this nomination, with a video for you, is at


  9. Congratulations, Babsje!

    I have nominated your blog for the Being a Light in the World Award.

    All the best for you and the herons!

    More on this nomination is at


    • Congrats to you on receiving this award from Barbara – you are truly deserving for your many efforts in raising poeople’s awareness about the environment and the need for peace. Thank you for nominating my blog for this award, dear Petrel41. I am humbled by your kind and thoughtful gesture! Best, Babsje

  10. I would like to say I love your blog and the wonderful and beautiful things you share as well as the inspiration and smiles you bring in doing so! Thank you for being you and I hope even if you do not accept awards you will accept the sentiment expressed as I honor you with one. There is no prize that comes with the award other than my appreciation and being grateful you are part of our world and making a difference by sharing in such a positive way…
    I have posted the award and link to it here I hope you will accept it or at least the sentiment behind it! http://artisticlyxpressedthoughts.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/awards-and-shared-gifts/

    With love,

    • Hi Joe – Many thanks for your very kind, and thoughtful, and sincere gesture. It is an honor to receive this award from you, any thanks for including my blue herons as nominees. Best, Babsje

  11. Congratulations, dear Babsje!

    I have nominated your blog for the Wonderful Team Membership Ward.

    More about this nomination is at


    • Congrats on your blog receiving this well-deserved award, and many thanks for your thoughtful gesture of nominating my great blue herons! I have been away from the blog lately, being under the weather, and so it was especially sweet to find your kind nomination here today. Thanks a lot for sharing this honor with me and the herons. Best, Babsje

  12. Well deserved 🙂 All my best wishes for you, your camera and the herons!

  13. Excellent reminder to us all! Happy (special) Anniversary!

  14. elizabethweaver

    I love the photos and I love your “about”…exceptional intention, gorgeous images, lovely writing. Thank you.

  15. Congratulations, Babsje!

    I have nominated your blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

    More about this nomination is at


  16. I love the outdoor photos of the Great Blue Herons and various wildlife. It reminds me of Southwest Florida.

  17. Wonderful photos. After reading this I see where you might consider a a trip to the South Carolina coast, February or March. The Heron rookeries are full and amazing.

    • Thanks dor your kind words about the Herons, and you’re right – the South Carolina coast sounds inviting for seeing the rookeries, especially in February and March when New England is still in the tbroes of winter! Best, Babsje

  18. Thank you for finding dragonshades and leading me gently to your wonderful blog. I too have shared the magic of eye-contact with creatures of the wild and agree that although one could regret what one didn’t capture there is no regret in what captured me.

  19. I was nodding, yes, yes, yes, when I read your comment:It’s a lesson in our choice to be present in the moment, as I was with the heron that afternoon, instead of focusing on the technology of recreating that moment for the future.
    Rather profound, I thought. 🙂

  20. Dear Babsje,
    we like your expression: {The herons} are a study of patience and grace – indeed, they are.
    Wishing you a happy evening
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Many thanks! I’m pleased that you appreciate the patience and grace of the Herons. They have taught me much about patience. Thank you for visiting the Herons! Best, Babsje

  21. Thanks for visiting my blog! I love your writing and blue herons! Aloha, ~Liz
    ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ Gen 1:1

  22. My wishes for a Happy New Year.

  23. Best wishes on your vision correction, Babsje. I surely appreciate the photos you share with us.

  1. Pingback: Goes Around, Comes Around | Babsje Heron

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