The blue heron
By CHRISTINE TAILER
As we drove up the creek road towards the county fairgrounds, I looked through the woods towards the clear creek water. It appeared to be blue, reflecting the sky overhead.
Over the past few weeks the forest undergrowth had begun to thin and the leaves had begun to dry on the trees. It had become far easier to see through the woods and down to the creek.
As we rounded a familiar curve, about halfway up to the main road, I was glad to see one of our creek neighbors. He stood ever so still on a shallow rock out in the middle of the creek. His feet were covered with the clear blue water, but I was quite certain that I could see his long dark toes stretching across the light gray clay below.
His rounded back was towards us, and looked quite silver in the dappled light, but down towards the base of his tail, his feathers were definitely blue, and so the big bird got its name. It was a great blue heron.
Even from the road the heron appeared to be tall, but I knew that he likely measured over four feet from head to tail, and had a wing span of over six feet.
I love to watch him as he flies low along the creek valley, his long neck curved in a tight “S” so that his head is tucked close to his body, but as he stood in the creek fishing, he held his head tall, his beak pointed towards the water, to better catch fish.
Pickup trucks hauled trailers filled with hopefully prize winning cattle, goats, and hogs. Horses, chickens, and rabbits were all being bedded down for the week of showing, ribbons, bidding, and of course lots of storytelling between bites of favorite fair food.
My role was small, really small, but perhaps it is the many combined small parts that make our fair ever so special. I was the wine judge.
My only expertise is that I enjoy drinking the occasional glass, and also enjoy making wine out of creek valley ingredients, wild blackberry, pawpaw, dandelion, and of course, our honey. And I have read up on judging criteria and enjoyed many a wine tasting.
The hustle and bustle was all around as I sat at a table in a beautiful old barn and sampled 22 bottles of homemade wines.
Their crisp colors ranged from light gold to deep purple. Some flavors lingered sweetly on the back of my tongue. Others wafted through my head as I inhaled over the glass. It was, needless for me to say, a very pleasant task.
And then, judging done, Greg and I walked around the grounds and through the buildings, stopping for quick hellos with folk we knew, but everyone was busy so we did not linger.
Pickup trucks and carts were everywhere, headed every which way imaginable, but no one seemed to be getting in anyone else’s way. Everyone had a plan, to get ready, and everyone understood. It appeared to me to be a perfectly orchestrated confusion, disorder with a plan.
As we left the grounds, the sun was settling lower in the sky. A brisk wind was blowing perfectly white clouds high overhead. I tilted my head back to tuck wayward strands of hair under my cap. I could hear the flapping of the fair’s brightly colored concession flags snapping in the wind, but even with my hair once again secure, I kept looking up. The sky was a brilliant blue.
We headed back home to the blue water creek and the great blue heron, under a perfect blue sky. What a perfect way to start the fair!