Yellow Crowned Night Herons
It was a magical day today. I took my bike down to the farmers market, and I did an extra loop through a gorgeous old neighborhood in Memphis to look at the houses and get a little extra exercise. This week I hit 300 miles on my bike for the year so far. For some of my friends, that's small potatoes, but since I didn't learn to ride until last summer, it's been worth celebrating. So I need to do at least that again before the end of the year!
Not only did I see some lovely old houses, but I saw some lovely old friends as well. I had two very good chats with people I hadn't seen since all this craziness started. That was good enough, but then Kevin and Erin told me about two heron nests in the neighborhood -- that I'd been whizzing underneath on my bike without realizing for some weeks now, watching houses and traffic instead.
It was glorious. They're right out over the sidewalk, so anyone can stop to watch (and the neighbors out were really kind about it, even pointing out the second nest I hadn't spotted yet). The babies are huge, almost fledged. I'm so glad I got there in time to see them. And one of the mamas walked down a branch and took a bath/preened herself for a long time. I got a great look at different angles of her head and beak and gorgeous long plumage that wouldn't be out of place at Ascot.
My bike was mostly falling over, too heavy with all my produce for the week for the kickstand to hold, so I was juggling it, and then my fountain pen started leaking badly as I was drawing. I finally did totally lose control of the bike, and it went over onto the pavement. I had a couple of busted peaches as a snack when I finally got home. And you can see fingerprints and smudges all over the sketchbook page. But my sketches are better than the super small i-phone photos I got -- the herons are way high up. I did get one short video of the joyful cacophony in one of the nests, which I'm adding at the bottom for fun. I'm so grateful for this new focus on birds through the quiet, at home spring. It's been a gorgeous new facet of the world to learn about and pay attention to.
I spent a lot of the rest of the day (lunch and work) at the back porch table with birdsong and the fan (and, realistically, a couple of really loud leaf blowers nearby for a bit). I just started a second volume of the Quarantine Journal (top image, the neat one) -- I finished the first book I had started. I used my messy sketches and also my new Sibley bird book to double check colors some. I'm so grateful I'd thought to tuck in my sketchbook when I left this morning. I wanted this magical day in my big and colorful journal where I would remember it.
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Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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