Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Heron Story--Part Three

The frayed edges of our bubble flapped around us. We didn’t argue, not immediately. Instead we (ridiculously) continued to get ready for our outing. We got in the car, drove north; me attempting casual conversation, him grunting one-word answers or answering not at all.

At the park, we collected the dog and headed down the hill to the trail. Continued stony silence issued forth from the husband. Finally, I sighed and said, “Are you going to be mad at me all day?” What better place to air your dirty laundry than right out in front of God and everybody?

Luckily, “everybody” was not in attendance. But God—the Great Spirit, the Universe, All There Is—was.

The walking trail at this park goes around a tiny man-made lake. We hit the trail arguing. But comfort and distraction came only a few steps into our mobile squabble.

Where our path neared the shore of the little lake, a huge heron floated up from the water, where it had obviously been fishing. It rose above us, crossed our path, crossed it again, then landed in a tree about fifteen yards away and looked down at us. This is not usual heron behavior. Disturbed, they will emit one of their characteristic hoarse croaks, gather themselves up and take themselves away to where the intruding humans are no longer in evidence. It briefly crossed my distressed mind that this one seemed more interested in being noticed, in making sure I knew it was there. After all, it could have just stayed in the water, where a mounded bank had kept it out of our view. It was odd…special. I couldn’t help but climb out of my pit of despair long enough to say, “Wow!”

Husband and I argued/walked on for another twenty yards or so, and the exact same thing happened again. Another heron rose from the shore, crossed our path just ahead of us, and lit in a tree a short way up the trail. “I am here,” it seemed to be saying.

“Wow!” I sputtered between my tears. “It must be ‘Heron Day’ at the nuclear park!”

We walked deeper into the park, and sank deeper into our conflict. I tried to explain that my prime focus the past several months had been to talk myself up, to convince myself that I had not failed. It was the only way to keep getting out of bed in the morning. And I tried so hard to keep my peace; to appear as if I was okay, going through those motions every day. All for naught, evidently. All at once, my façade of peace lay in shards at my feet, and the dam behind which sloshed five years of disallowed tears began to crack. I prepared to wash away into the crater of depression which I had heretofore somehow managed to skirt

We rounded a corner, though I was so awash in despair that I don’t know how I stayed on my feet. Scant yards ahead, yet a third heron rose up out of nowhere and flew across the trail in front of us. It, too, landed in a tree and watched us walk away. "I am still here. For you."

At a point about three-quarters of the way around the lake, we somehow managed to fashion a patch over the hole in our bubble. Husband took my hand and we walked in truce. We drove home in a more amicable silence. Once out of the car, we went our separate ways. We were done arguing, for now, but it didn’t seem important to spend any more time in each others’ immediate presence. Once again, my job was going to be to gather up the shards of my shattered peace and act as if it were no sweat at all to put it back together.

I spent the next couple of hours listening to music and playing solitaire on my laptop. This is my go-to decompression mode. It occupies just enough of my brain to keep it from diving into the depths, analyzing and re-analyzing the argument ad nauseum. The sun sank on what was supposed to be our beautiful fall day. Gazing out the window, I knew I had to get back out into it. I would go to Mother Earth. She would help me puzzle my peace back together.

Looks like this is going to be at least a four-parter...


  1. I love the aapearance of the herons! Really profound. It sad that so many men have a deep challenge communicating beyond a word or two response. My husband has come some ways along, but even still it is common for him to walk away saying nothing and leaving me wondering...aimple things like what to have for supper, or should we go to a movie?

    So, I am sorry this is your reality. But is sounds like you continue to do your work and that's important!

  2. I know you have so much more to say. I have to go teach a class but I will be back for parts 4 and 5 later today...


  3. The elephant got even bigger didn't it?