Friday, April 13, 2012

Hello Stranger!

A Great Blue Heron at the South Natick Dam
13 April, 2012
I spotted my first heron of the year at the dam this morning. It was sunny and cold. The river, having been warmed by yesterday's rain, was covered by a shifting layer of fog being pushed around by the breeze just above the water's surface. I settled on the retaining wall and took a sip of my coffee. I looked up and there was a  heron, "plain as the nose on your face", behind the island facing the dam. He stayed just long enough for me to open my sketchbook and draw the outlines of the rocks, his bony angular neck and and dagger-like bill. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to get the other details of the scene right.

The water is low. There are already long tendrils of algae clinging to the barely submerged boulders. Sticks and tree branches are stuck at the top of the dam. If we ever we get a spring deluge, they will be swept downriver. Last week I spoke to a fisherman who caught some small brook trout. He complained about the algae and blamed it on the suburban mania for green lawns and fertilizer. The vernal pools in the forest at the end of Front St. are dry so the spring peepers (frogs) are subdued  But it has also been cool so the flowering trees have held onto their glory a bit longer. You take the good with the bad I guess. Still, it makes me anxious about the summer… how dry will it get?

The color in these images is a bit off as you can probably tell. The sketchbook is too big to scan so I take a snapshot under incandescent light early in the morning (hence the yellow and bluish illumination).

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