Last Friday while rummaging in the refrigerator, I came across some old luncheon meat. I cut the meat up to give to our cats and headed for the kitchen deck. Hand on the doorknob, I looked up and saw an enormous blue heron standing on the railing. He was about my height, had claws the size of my hands, a muscular chest, a wicked beak and a familiar gleam in his eyes. He and I have waged war before. He would raid the fishpond and I would chase him away. The heron was annoyed, his easy meals via the fishpond were gone. Between the snakes, turtles and blue herons, the pond had become a continuous headache and a few weeks back we decided to fill the pond in. After all, the creek is right there.
The creek. How we love the creek. Through the years it has enchanted us with spring wildflowers, showed us its power after a mighty rainstorm, and been a source of food for small-mouth bass, owls and annoyed blue herons.
When our boys lived at home, the creek proved to be a good babysitter. Seth and Jesse spent hours there; chasing crawdads, building dams, floating toys, rock-hopping and splashing each other. Our older son, Seth, even used the creek for some of his art projects.
Always interested in the Titanic shipwreck, Seth used to build multiple historically correct replicas of the ship. Using pliable tin foil, Seth crafted the ships and placed them outside – under rock shelters, and/or in the creek. Left outside, the rocks and creek water gave Seth’s ships a patina similar to the underwater shots one sees of the shipwreck.
After one ship had been outside for two years, Seth took it to his art teacher who entered the piece in the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing contest. Seth won a Gold Key Award, an award given to only 5-7% of the submissions. The ship went on to the nationals in Washington, D.C., and Seth went on to the Art Institute of Boston for an art degree. Seth now has an excellent job due to his degree and we partially have the creek to thank for that.
The creek is always changing. When torrential rain showers bring the creek out of its bounds, those fast-moving waters bring various plants and seeds to the creek banks. Whenever we’ve been away on a trip, the creek is the first place we visit, the ever-changing serenity of the water reaffirming us and our place in the universe.
The gigantic irritated blue heron eventually flew off the deck, landing in the backyard. The cats took notice and one of them began stalking the heron. Fortunately, before our cat could pounce, a maneuver that would not have ended well for said cat, the heron flew to our swimming pool and then away into the woods. He’ll be back, hopefully not at the swimming pool, but at the creek, fishing the way God intended him to. The charms of the creek will lure him in, just like it does us.
Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.