So you probably know that I’ve been on vacation with my younger sister. We just spent a week in St. Pete Beach, Florida.
It was perfect.
I know, I know. Gag me and all that.
But seriously. It was about 80 degrees and perfectly sunny EVERY DAY. We ate fresh seafood. We walked on the beach every morning. We collected (I am not kidding) about 600 perfect seashells. We swam and floated and splashed in the Gulf of Mexico for hours.
And one of the best parts for me was meeting so many friendly and welcoming people. I met some new people, unknown to either my sister or myself. They were interesting, funny, and fun to talk with.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some people that my sister has known for decades. That was very cool, because at long last I had faces to match to so many of her stories. And I was instantly welcomed into the “family” of her long time buddies.
So special. Such a blessing.
And I mean that. Really and truly! My circle has grown this week, and that is always a wonderful development.
But you know what?
The best interaction that I had all week was with a bird.
We were walking along the shore one evening, gathering shells and watching the sun set. We came to a wooden pier, stretching into the gulf.
As we looked out toward the setting sun, I noticed a beautiful egret fishing on the rocks.
I walked toward her, snapping picture after picture to capture her perfect white feathers in the light of the setting sun.
And then I noticed, further along, a beautiful heron. A great blue heron, standing on the railing of the pier. He was scanning the water below him, just as intent on catching his dinner as the egret was.
I slowly walked toward him, fully expecting him to take flight when I got too close.
But to my amazement, instead of flying off, he turned his head to watch my approach.
He was absolutely calm, watching me with his bright yellow eyes. As I held up my phone and started to take pictures, I swear that he lifted his head and posed.
He was regal. He was the one in charge.
He seemed, in a strange way, to be watching me as closely as I was watching him.
I could hardly breathe. I have never been so close to a heron! I have never been so close to a large bird.
He was gorgeous.
I kept moving forward, my phone help up in front of my eye.
The heron watched, but never gave the slightest sign of unease. His feet stayed steady on the post beneath him. His feathers were smooth, gray, supremely unruffled.
I took one picture after another.
Slowly, I moved past my royal subject. Now the sun’s setting light held him in perfect glowing relief. I took several more shots, unable to believe my luck.
And I’m not kidding. He turned his head, showing himself in perfect profile.
It was starting to feel a little bit surreal, standing so close to such an amazing bird, watching him in all of his elegant glory. Watching him as he watched me.
Finally I had taken as many photos as I thought I might need. I put my phone in my pocket.
For some reason that I don’t fully understand, I placed my right hand on my chest, and gave a tiny bow.
‘Thank you, sir,” I said.
And you know what he did?
I’m not kidding.
He dipped that magnificent head toward me, acknowledging my thanks and recognizing his own superiority.
I will forever be in awe of that moment.