As I stood at the kitchen window, a small but perceptible movement caught my eye.
And what to my wondering eyes did appear? A magnificent heron, astoundingly near!
The new camera Santa had given me was upstairs, so I backed out of the room, not wanting to let the heron know that I was there observing its magnificence, and retrieved my new toy.
When I returned, the creature had started to saunter around the pond, very slowly taking in the surroundings: Christmas-lights-laden dwarf palm trees at the top of the waterfall...
..and then it headed back to the side of the pond...
...where it perched at the pond's edge and peered in at its hoped-for meal: goldfish:
A miniflight away was the perfect lookout -- the faux-pineapple decorative fountain in the middle of the pond (see the first photo, above). Here is a closeup of its balancing act:
Soon it began too close an inspection for comfort. Thought I don't feel warm and cuddly about our goldfish, I also didn't want to see their orangness in the mouth of their natural predator. It looked like time for me to decide: do I want more astounding pictures of this glorious creature, or did I want to save our goldfish from certain death at the end of 2009?
I waved my arms, and immediately the beautiful bird detected the movement and departed. It flew down the hill to the street and landed for a look-see atop our morning-glory-covered arch:
Its next destination was our neighbor's roof, above a flag depicting Santa, who made all these photos possible. How fitting.
So, here's what I think. This heron is a harbinger of a good year to come. His visit was an extended opportunity for me to appreciate his graceful ways, for a good amount of time, and capture them, even though he was on the other side of a window.
Though I deprived him of a meal, I did plan for his return at a time I might not be looking out the kitchen window. Yesterday I bought 20 more goldfish.