Lake Grasmere, Lake District, July 20, 2013.
Just at dawn in England’s Lake District we stepped from mile-long trail through the ancient rock, pine and oak to the rough pebble beach of Lake Grasmere, one of the smallest of the lakes in this lovely land.
As the sun beat its first rays onto the water, the mist covering much of the lake began to slowly rise giving a glimpse to the shorelines of both sides, greater, clearer views close in and views obscured by stubborn mist, blotted by large dark trees in the distance. The surface was translucent, blue-gray and still.
The trail lead across the beach and back to denser growth along the lake with enormous runs of sturdy rock walls marking off dark, rough lines across the fields and grassland of the farms perched further up the slope from the lake. To our right, birch and pine, one, two or three deep, made a loose screen for the lake immediately by us and the slow rising mist was a silver drape pulled up tight to the trees on the other side. The white sheep and black cattle were still lying in deep green pastures to our left.
The world was silent yet.
Then, with one tree between us and him, a blue heron was startled by our quiet presence and with an imperceptible spring struck out away from us and towards the mist. His large wings, covered in dew and sounding a muffled woof, beat slowly and heavily as he stroked from shore towards the obscurity in front of him, pulling away but not up.
He banked slightly left, stretching his long wings to their full extent, beating down in graceful rhythm. As he banked further left with a sheen of silver striking his back, his blue-gray wing tip struck the blue-gray water with each stroke, leaving a trail of lily pad shapes of concentric circles quietly, silently fading back into the still water as he stroked on, out into the mist and out of sight.