Lesson From Night Heron

January 22, 2010

One of the many “dumb jobs” I’ve had over the years was as a Security Guard at Woodly Island Marina in Eureka CA It was not my great ambition to be a security guard but I had recently moved to Eureka from Salt Lake City, UT and was in desperate need of re-hydration. It rains a LOT in Eureka but I wanted MORE water. I lived on the beach with the rain and the wind but I also wanted to work where there were boats and more water and boat people and more waterwaterwater. I was really excited to land the Pinkerton job at the marina. God I loved it there. I was the lone security guard on the graveyard shift. The job entailed walking all the docks all night looking for anything that may be amiss. Nothing much happens most nights. It’s nothing, nothing, nothing then a boat is sinking or on fire or one of the people who lives on their boat comes home drunk and falls in the drink or the local escaped con would take our parking lot as a nice place to get some shut eye. Then nothing, nothing, nothing.

Some nights the water was like glass and as I walked the docks the reflection of the sky in the water made it seem I was walking in the sky itself. Some nights the water boiled with bait fish, the seals and other predators driving them to the surface in a frenzy. There were river otters that came to feed at night and raccoons and 6′ jelly fish andandand – It was an awesome environment in which to meditate and be astounded on an ongoing basis.

I have many stories about the marina but this story is about Night Heron. Had it not been for Night Heron I doubt I could have enjoyed the rest of the experience as I did. It was the first night of my training when I was introduced to this amazing bird. The man who was showing me the ropes (literally as well as figuratively in this case) was a Vietnam Vet. The defeated sort. He didn’t have a lot of excitement about life left in him. Not long after our training sessions he got fired for drinking on the job and I realized that the two nights spent with me were nights for him that had enforced an unwelcome sobriety. He also sniffed out the peace-nic in me. It was not a comfortable association.

He was not happy dragging me around but we walked the docks and he told me what he had to. At one point he just stopped and leaned on the rail of a ramp and pointed. I finally figured out that he meant me to look at the witchy looking bird standing absolutely still on a rock looking intently into the water. We watched and watched and the bird watched the water and watched and watched. I can’t say I got right into this watching the bird watching the water thing we were doing but after a few minutes the bird lunged and came up with a fish. It gave the fish a perfect flip, stretched out its neck and down the fish went. My God! Then the bird went back to watching the water and there we were watching the bird watching the water again. My trainer told me it was a Night Heron and he had seldom seen one miss the fish once it lunged. We watched some more. Sure enough the next strike, several minutes later, nailed another fish. We watched some more after that. I swear the Night Heron could stand there without moving for half an hour. EUREKA! I finally “got it”. I got a load of information in a nano second, all in a gift wrapped package from Night Heron. Information relayed in that way can be hard to pass on but it had to do with supreme patience, supreme centering, supreme focus, supreme skill, supreme being, and back again to patience.

This was all long before I had even heard of animal communication but I knew what I got and it was a very precious gift. The man I was with had given me the best job training I’d ever got anywhere by just standing there long enough for me to get the gift of Night Heron. He knew what was required to be able to endure the job and he passed it on in the best imaginable way.

It was such a privilege to have a job in which I could commune with Night Heron on a regular basis. Before I left that job I learned from many of the other creatures at the marina and I came to understand from them the sublime elements within life and death. I must try to relay more of these adventures here.

For now though, it is enough to honor Night Heron.


3 Responses to “Lesson From Night Heron”

  1. Melissa Kirk Says:

    Beautiful! I always loved Night Herons – I’ve seen them around the marina where I spend time, and also at Lake Merritt in Oakland, walking near the lake in the evening. They have an otherworldly stillness.

    I love how you capture so many nuances of that night in your post, with ease and beauty, and the real lesson – patience, confidence, quickness, and patience – is poised perfectly at the end.

    There are so many lessons around us, every minute, this is a beautiful look at one such lesson.

    Thank you!

    • Trish Scott Says:

      Thank you! I love that you enjoyed this post. I really like your term “otherworldly stillness”. That is so evocative of Night Heron! Thanks for dropping by. I have taken a look at your last post and love your examination of love. I’ll go back and take a longer look at your blog :).

  2. Jill Says:

    Hey! Glad you liked my blog and thanks for the nice words. and for linking to this story- great stuff! Night herons are indeed pretty cool birds. Did you ever see the roost at the marsh? Hundreds of them there in the fall/winter! The job at the marina sounds pretty fun, especially the night shift. i can see why you liked it!

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