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The big blue bomber


D. J. Sweetenham


  One morning last week, I had been working out in the back yard, and a few drops of rain started to fall, which was enough to drive me indoors again for a brief water break. It was just one of those “pop-up” showers that the weatherman likes to talk about, which can either amount to nothing or a deluge. That was my excuse for a few minutes rest time, and I sat down on my old recliner, sipping on a glass of iced water. Seriously, it was only water and I was just getting up to go back outside when there was an almighty thump on the side of the house. Almost simultaneously, a large dark shadow flashed past the dining room window. I struggled out of the recliner and hurried to the sun-room door, just in time to see Big Blue, the big blueish-grey heron which lives and nests at the top of the neighboring pine trees. 

  He swooped down low in a tight turn around the corner of my house and raced straight for the lake. This was very strange behavior for him; I had never seen him flying so low, close to the house. That still didn’t explain the noise I had heard of something hitting the outside wall. I went on a short inspection tour and discovered a fairly good sized dead bream, about ¾ pound, laying about 5 feet away from the side of the house. The siding had just been replaced a couple of weeks ago, as a result of damage caused by the hail storm in March.

  There was no additional damage to the siding and no indication of what could have caused the sound of an impact. Obviously, the fish had something to do with it so I deduced the following chain of events.

  That morning, Mrs. Blue had asked her husband, Big Blue to pick up a nice fish for lunch. Mindful of his obligations to his family, Big Blue set out on a fishing trip to the southern end of the lake where some kingfishers had tipped him off about a good fishing area. When he arrived there he met up with several other herons on the same quest. A friendly contest soon developed to see who could catch, not only the most but the biggest fish. Time slipped away from him, he was having too much fun with his friends. When he realized he was going to be late, he hurriedly squawked a brief farewell to his friends, grabbed the biggest of the fish he had caught, leaving the rest behind, and took off for home. He decided to take a short cut and instead of flying out over the lake he reckoned it would be faster to fly over the houses. He had forgotten the fact that roofers were busy on several of the houses in that neighborhood and still weighed down by that big fish he was carrying he couldn’t gain much altitude. Threading his way through the tall trees surrounding many of the houses, he was preparing to make a low approach over my yard when a loud explosion came from a roofer’s nail-gun directly beneath him. Startled, he dropped the fish and in trying to catch it again, swerved into the side if the house. The collision shook him up badly and it was all he could do to pick himself up and get airborne again. He heard me coming to investigate so he didn’t stop to retrieve his catch but flew off unencumbered by the weight of his fish.

  So how about that for a piece of detective work. Or should it be “a piece of defective work?” Anyway, he probably had to pay for his sins when he got home. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in his shoes (?) when he had to face the family with no fish. As for his catch, I picked it up and dumped it back in the lake. It probably fed a whole family of turtles.

  I last saw Big Blue heading out across the lake in a southeasterly direction. He may have been going back to the fishing hole or perhaps it would have been quicker to just pick up something at Captain D’s. Or maybe he just kept on flying in search of a quieter life in another state.

  D.J. Sweetenham, originally from England, is the author of Bumps in the Road and Bumps in the Road - Part Two. D.J., his wife, and two small dogs, live in Stockbridge.




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