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Of Stillness and Moments

It was the end of the first week of March and the weather was indecisive. Rain and the last of winter temperatures were in the forecast again. But, it had been too long since I'd paddled... too long since I'd been low to the water and nearly eye-level with water fowl...too long since I'd been on water's stillness.

So, before the rains came, I paddled out. I don't know if I happened upon a normal time for the Canada Geese's bathing and preening; I thought those were early morning activities. But noon was approaching and the geese were sending the droplets flying in a flurry of flapping wings.

(Click on individual photos to enlarge and see the entire image.)

It certainly was a show. It was mesmerizing, actually, because several geese participated one at a time. It was as if they were taking turns, showing off their best moves. I thought it was an act of courtship, but I've since learned that courtship of geese involves head-bobbing, not wing-flapping. Whatever it was, water was flying everywhere! Then the geese settled back down.

Through all of this show, a Great Egret had quietly been in the wings of the water stage. There, alongside the geese, the Great Egret fished, silently standing and sometimes stalking in the water, arching his neck in ready aim for an unsuspecting fish. Lengths of time would pass before he moved. In an instant his head would dart into the water and just as quickly it would come out with a fish. That fish was evident as an outline as it made its way down the long neck of the egret.

Today there was only this one Great Egret present as I paddled, but I've heard that four have wintered here and still remain. (It has been that long since I went kayaking.) He did not remain in the water though, as a Great Blue Heron flew in, announcing her arrival with a landing call that couldn't be missed. She wanted this water to herself so she scared the Great Egret away.

That Great Egret flew -- up into the branches and out onto a bare limb.

That tree was backed by a pear tree, its branches wearing a flourish of white blossoms, ready for spring.

Brilliant white feathers

against a

bright white petal background,

backed by a raincloud sky.

Such simple monochromatic beauty.

Such a feast of lines and textures.

Such a moment of stillness before the rain.

After a long while, the Great Egret flew off, and I paddled back to shore.


These photos and story took place on Echo Lake, a manmade lake in my neighborhood in

Atlanta, Georgia, USA. They happened on March 7, 2022. Thank you for reading this blog. I appreciate you being here. -- Susanne Swing Thompson

Please feel free to share this post with other people you think might enjoy it.

I write a weekly email called A Closer Look. It is simply one of my nature photos and a short bit of original writing (much shorter than this piece). It's a quiet way to start the weekend and be encouraged to see the intricacies in nature that are all around you. If you would like to subscribe, simply fill in the form near the bottom of the Contact/Subscribe page on my website:

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Unknown member
Mar 29, 2022

Awesome. I’ve lived near Echo Lake since 1967. I remember during the great winter storm of ‘73 my parents took me sledding on the frozen lake and police ran us off for safety! Thank you for sharing. Brantley

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I keep my kayak at the home of friends so I can't make it a public outing.

Thanks for the link to your extensive work!

For general inquiries, here is my email with my work:

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