The wetlands behind Shoreline Park, just a short distance from Highway 101 but a whole world apart, are magical today. Finally, after a year of severe drought we have had a month of rain, hard rain; enough to bring the water level back up to the edge of the walking trail. Water has been pouring from the skies with the intensity of a monsoon; every drop fat and full. Sometimes it reminded me of July in Delhi when after months of scorching heat, the heavens opened up to share their bounty. I remember running out fully clothed to feel the raindrops on my face. I would look up, savoring every droplet individually as it hit the inside of my cheeks. It was heaven on earth.
As I walk in these wetlands today, I think – this must be how the egrets feel – heaven on earth.
They are out in full force. It is cloudy, cool and foggy, perfect wetland weather. What looks like steam rises from the water, pure white, in sharp contrast to the dark, almost black outline of the scrub which hides flora and fauna from the eye. But not the egrets. Everywhere I look, it seems like hundreds of tiny, snowy birds swim around, frolicking gracefully, purposefully; perhaps to celebrate this gift from God and give thanks or perhaps just being themselves.
As my eye followed one group, I see one bird all by itself. From a distance it seems small so I walk towards it on the path convinced there must be other birds around it. Unlike the small egrets in groups this one is a much bigger bird, also in the heron family but with large white plumes that sheath water off its back. It is a great white egret – regal in bearing, looking away from the rest. It is all by itself. There is nothing else like it all around as far as my eye can see.
Why is it alone? Is it sad or happy?
Then I see it is not alone; a perfect reflection gives it company. It does not look lonely, just quiet and reflective. It takes a tiny step forward, then another, and another and the reflection moves along in perfect harmony. I get the message it is sending me.
Nature gives us shadows in the sun, echoes in the mountains and reflections in pools so no one is alone; no one is lonely.
I take a picture to etch the scene in my brain and thank the people around me who work to save these wetlands from the encroaching city where I live. I am lucky to live where I do. This perhaps is heaven.