Close Encounter

 

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Preparing for my little road trip and getting caught up in all the things I had to do before leaving, I lost track of time and suddenly noticed that the sun was already setting. I still had to get my car which I leave parked where the pavement ends, but now needed to bring back to the house to pack up for my journey. With darkness was fast approaching I grabbed my keys and started walking quickly through the forest

As it was getting darker and darker I realized that I had forgotten to bring a flashlight and began walking as quickly as I could. In the darkest part of the forest trail, normally so magical with light streaming through the trees, I suddenly heard the eery sound of a wolf howling. I stopped for a moment to get a sense of where it was coming from and realized I was walking right towards it.

Turning around wasn’t an option, so facing the fear that had arisen, I walked on and was glad, when I finally came out at the more open and wider logging road. The half moon had risen and P1170912was there to greet me and I was delighted to see it. If felt strangely comforting. The sound of the wolf’s howling was very close now. It was beautiful, wild and also sad sounding. I waited for a few moments to see if there was a reply, but no other wolf answered. Feeling a sadness and loneliness that wasn’t mine, I walked the rest of the way to my car and got there just before it was completely dark and happily drove home.

Arriving at the house I noticed the moon was shining brightly over the water in the bay. It looked so beautiful and I just had to get my tripod to try and capture the moon and the first star lighting up the sky. As I set it all up on the dock, I could still hear the wolf calling in the distance. Playing with different settings of my camera and noticing how more and more stars were appearing in the night sky, the sound of fish jumping brought my attention to the water lit up by the moonlight. Suddenly I heard a big splash just ahead of me and something rather big with wings rose from the water coming straight at me.

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To my amazement a Great Blue Heron landed right beside me on the dock. That first surprised look from both of us, as we looked at each other, would have been quite comical to witness, I am sure. I couldn’t believe that I found myself standing beside this large beautiful bird and I am not sure what he was thinking. He looked at me intently, as both of us stood completely still.

Knowing my camera was right there but pointing the other way at the moon, I realized there was no chance to capture this moment, any movement and the Heron would be gone in a heartbeat. Instead I allowed myself to be fully present and receive the gift of this close encounter.

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I was sure that this was the same Heron that I had been visiting with out in the kayak, watching him catch his dinner, sometimes with amazing precise elegance and other times jumping into the water with an ungraceful splash, but coming out of the water triumphantly with a fish speared in his beak. I have seen him land on our dock numerous times and hang out there, when no-one is there. A few times he made me laugh as I watched him grab and shake the white rope playfully as if he is bored or practicing catching fish.

On this night he didn’t stay long with me on the dock, but long enough for me to feel like I had stepped out of normal reality into some other magical realm. As I made my way slowly back to the house, wolf was still calling and waiting for an answer. The pictures of the moon didn’t turn out as I had hoped, but that didn’t matter at all. The experience with the Heron on the dock in the moonlight was far more precious than any photo.

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The next morning I set out on my journey, letting go at some point of all the things left undone and trusting they could wait till I returned. Getting to the ferry terminal, the morning fog was shrouding everything in its mystery. Standing at the beach waiting for the ferry to arrive and suddenly seeing it coming at me through the fog, I knew some magical journey had already begun before I even left our little island.

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