Fog descends, thick, every breath fills my lungs with cool steam. Who needs the sauna? My crazy dog and I walk the pond at City Park, greeting other dogs and walkers as we make the loop. She delightedly greets her canine counterparts with barks, sniffs, wiggles, waggles, and bear hugs, while the other human and I tug and untangle leashes, mutter a quick hello, and get these damned dogs on their way… don’t the realize it is cold outside?
In my right periphery, a bright flash of white pops against the grisly grey Autumn sky. My eye trails first to a pair of sticks, jutting out in parallel knobby lines from the rain-mottled water, nearly indistinguishable from the reeds rising up around them.
My eye follows the lanky lines of leg up to a dappled gray and white feathered body, long and lean as the skinny legs it stands on. “BIRD!” my mind says, “big bird!” It has no words for the type, though something questions, “crane?” uncertainly. The name does not matter however, not to me and most certainly not to the fowl. It remains standing ankle deep in cold water, alive, breathing, existing, whether I name it or not.
In its impossibly long, yellow-orange beak flops a big, fat, slippery, scaly, silver fish, struggling less and less as the seconds pass. Finally, it heaves its final gulp of murderous oxygen and becomes dinner.
Suddenly, the large bird spreads open its wings and silently swoops over the water, flying mere inches above it, trailing its claws as it goes and leaving small impressions and ripples. It disappears entirely behind the tall reeds it so closely resembles.
I close my gaping mouth, feeling a delighted, wondrous awe at having seen such a common-place event. The dog and I walk home, where I tell the kids about it. I tell someone at work about it the next day. I am telling you about it now.