Waves Rising

Thu, 07/02/2020 - 5:00pm

Every year I refer to “the egret” in the pond behind my house, but always wonder if there is more then one. There used to be a heron, great and blue — or blue-gray — that nested at the edge of the swamp, just to the north, over the wall, in a bayberry bush grown so tall it seemed a tree. It once followed the same end of day circuit its white cousin or pale counterpart or ghost of a replacement now has for decades.

Only on rare occasions have I seen more than one egret and never, to my knowledge, little ones. They are not like the goslings I one day notice, somewhere between small and fluffy and losing-their-down gangly, later now than I did before the shad and pussy willow grew and blocked my open view of the pond in springtime. Then I would see, from the multitude of geese that haunt the fields, the select two who became the parents of that year, proudly marching a row of babies to the water’s edge and into the pond.

They are not like the mallards I saw yesterday, scurrying out of Mansion Road into the grass, the mom, alone, leading her little brood, all too closely packed for me to tell how many there were. Perhaps they had been in a fine line before she heard the approach of the big car, as dangerous as those Boston vehicles with no kind Policeman Michael to not only stop traffic for them, but to call headquarters and clear the path from the river to the Public Garden.

The book, “Make Way for Ducklings,” is still in print, children must still read it, I hope as captured as we were by sepia illustration, back when print was such a powerful medium with only radio competing. And how many state capitals have such signature pieces of children’s literature, wrapping into the narrative a state house dome, a private neighborhood square, and historic public gardens.

This morning I saw one egret, looking too small to be an adult, too formed to be a baby, but too close to the house to be an adult. They do not leave the nest early, which, of course, makes sense when one thinks of it far off the ground.

They are generally on the far side of the pond, or that is where I see them, perhaps this one came too far from the water and was spooked by the horse being ridden in the lot and hied off in the wrong direction, or maybe it is a youngster whose curiosity overcame its fear of the unknown. I think maybe my notion of their size is overblown but I remember one beside the Neck Road last spring, larger and more sure footed than this tentative stalker.

Sometime we just happen upon things on Facebook, this time the posting of a sculptor I still think of as a dark-haired child, long a grown man with his own dark-haired children, showing the loading of bike racks destined for Block Island.

A sculptor and bike racks? This is Block Island where grant funding and private donations have come together for the latest iteration of the little park at the foot of the Adrian House/Harbor Church hill. The fencing, that once seemed such a nice replacement of the original rails, is gone, replaced by simple, heavy rope, marking a bound but not closing off spaces. Benches have been appearing, and a new fountain and walkway, and a renewed rendition of the old chess/checkers table and benches.

Birds, I thought at first, when I saw the racks in photos, with herons and ducks and their malevolent distant relatives that start their loud song before dawn, on my mind. They looked to be a rows of winged creatures, with arched necks and a single eye.

A few feet away, they struck me more as waves, caught as they crested, filled with life, especially as the end of day light struck the metal, smooth to the touch but textured to the eye. Birds in the waves, I wondered, but have since been told they are waves.

The work was commissioned by the Old Harbor Force, the artist is Aymar Ccopacatty, a name familiar now for generations on Block Island. More detailed information will be forthcoming; the installation took place only yesterday.

But if you have a chance to walk around, do it, take a look, catch the waves rising from the grass of the little park. Originally scheduled to be in place months ago, I appreciate that they have arrived now, when we are all on edge over a building summer and need the assurance of art, peaceful and powerful, inspirational and everlasting, and, being New England, functional.

Thank you, everyone.