Monday, March 7, 2011

Marsh Madness

     I sit by the marsh and  I listen. It is dawn, and the morning sun is just beginning to break pink across the flat horizon. There is a slow breeze rustling through the palmettos, which are standing like soldiers along the marsh's edge. Tall and proud, their saber fronds rattle and click in the breeze. The sound breaks the stillness of the morning, and the sleepy little marsh awakens.
    An in-coming tidal creek has cut a meandering path through the dense, tall reeds. A snowy white egret stalks it's trail, stopping occasionally to listen-- slowly, silently. Suddenly, he stabs the water with his long, sharp beak and spears a shrimp. He tosses his long neck back and swallows, then lifts his slender legs and marches on. I watch his journey and think I would like to join him on his morning walk. I am most at home by the marsh, it is where my heart resides, and I want to stay here forever and become the neighbor of my feathered friend.
       A colony of wood storks has taken command of the highest roost in the adjacent lagoon.  This is their domain, they have staked claim to this spot, and every morning and every evening, they return to this slice of land which is their home. A lone alligator is the only creature brave enough to invade their territory, and he sits and smirks beneath the tree where a stork posts guard. They must share in the bounty that teems underneath the still waters of the lagoon, but the birds do not seem eager to welcome the gator into their home, and with guarded glances, they watch him as he sleeps beneath their nest.
   The grasses of the marsh are still brown, wearing their winter coat even into March, but as the morning birds arrive to begin their breakfast hunt, I know that spring is near. There is a hint of warmth in the early morning breeze, and the yellow Jessamine wrapped around the trunks of the palmetto has begun to bloom. The first whisper of green is barely visible among the dullness of the old marsh growth, but redbuds have exploded into color in the neighboring forest, and their vivid purple blossoms herald spring. It is almost time, it is almost here, and the promise of long, warm summer days leaves a yearning in my soul.
    I sit by the marsh and I dream. I am a great blue heron, with long yellow legs. I spend my mornings plucking shrimp from the marsh's briny waters, and I nest in a tall palm tree.  I spread my wings and soar over the wide expanse of the barrier island, and I am home.

    I sit by the marsh and I smile. This is where my heart resides. I am mad for the marsh, it tugs at my soul and calls my name, it owns me. I have no choice but to submit, and I drown myself in the sulphur smell of the plough mud, the salty breeze from the ocean's shore, the warmth of the morning sun on my cheeks. I am home, I am beside the marsh, and I close my eyes, and smile.   

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