Great Blue Heron at Sundown
Some last things are more poignant than others, and one of the late autumn entities that always tugs at my heartstrings is the last heron of the season, he or she haunting the shallows of a Lanark lake at sundown in solitary splendor and looking for a few last minnows, frogs and/or water beetles to fuel the long trip south. It's a long arduous journey from here to there - all the way to the southern states, Mexico, Honduras, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.
I once wrote a post here about a long ago autumn morning in northern Ontario when the heron migration was in full swing, and the great birds had congregated in the predawn darkness to feed before flying onward. Hundreds of the magnificent birds were standing almost side by side in the foggy waters of the Mississagi, and as I moved quietly along the shoreline, their stately silhouettes appeared one by one out of the mist and the shrouded nebulous river as if by magic.
There is enough enchantment in such tatterdemalion noggin snippets to last many lifetimes, and the experience is one I hope to retain for the rest of my earthly days and beyond, no matter how many more mundane scraps embrace the void somewhere down the road. I've been a lover of herons every since that day, and I revisit the memory often in my thoughts - it is always a place of peace and stillness.
For whatever reason, archaic English refers to a group of herons together, not as colony or a flock, but as "a sedge of herons". Every summer I watch herons fishing in the shallows along Dalhousie Lake and think that if there were no other teachers about, I would be just fine with a sedge of herons to show me the way.
For heron lovers who are unable to fly south and must remain north in winter, the right expression for a group of our beloved birds is surely "a memory of herons".