White Lightning

I could watch and marvel at a great egret all day long

Any day I get to hang out with a great egret, is a great day for me indeed.

As inarguably beautiful as egrets are, I most love to watch them do what they do. While their almost ridiculously elongated beaks, necks and legs immediately command notice, what really earns my awe is the precise and patient process by which such seemingly ungainly appendages are directed with concerted, deadly effect.

Remember the kid in grade school with too-long legs for his body? How clumsy he was in gym class? Not so the egret, so in control of every anatomical feature that from a frozen white shadow its whip-like neck can erupt instantly, its perfect vision guiding the chisel-sharp beak with surgical precision so quickly that not until it finds itself sliding helplessly down a long, hungry gullet does its prey even begin to suspect it’s in danger. And not just fish and frogs, but insects, reptiles and even fat, furry voles regularly (if unwittingly) help satisfy an egret’s omnivorous appetite.

Thus I suppose the question of whether an encounter with a great egret might be considered a great day — or great disaster — depends very much whether one is on the egret’s menu. Being too big to swallow whole, I’ll gratefully stick with “great day.”

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